Here we go again. It’s time for Lent. Although it feels like we just did this. On the other hand all of our lent plans went out the window in the middle of March 2020...so I guess we did/didn’t? How did I get back here so quickly? If you’re like me, you might be convinced that time is steadily speeding up. I mean technically, for my 9-year-old, 2020 was 10% of her entire life. For me it was only 2.7% and for my mom it was 1.7% of her entire life. One year out of all the years we’ve lived.
Right now, the internet is fascinated about the ways we perceive the passing of time. You might have seen the “Wonder Years” meme floating around social media. When I was a kid, the Beach Boys were considered “oldies.” For kids born today, 1996’s “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is as old to them as “Surfin USA” is to me. All apologies to Deep Blue Something.
Then there’s the way we perceive the passing of time in the moment: watching a pot boil or standing in line at the DMV seem to last way longer than they should...That emptiness just extends to eternity. Time flies when you’re having fun. My wedding day, for example, is a blur until I sit down and look at all the pictures and see all the things that were packed into that one day. Things that are empty, when we have nothing better to do than count the minutes seem to fill up our lives, and the “fun” times just seem like a blip. And yet, when I think back to a family vacation to DisneyWorld, what I remember are the rides, the food, and the shows--and strangely, not the hours I spent walking between rides and waiting in line. In short,what you are doing, really does impact how you perceive the passing of time in the moment and the way you remember it in the future. Was it time well spent or was it a waste of time?
And here we are again in a time of Lent; a time of reflection and preparation. Our mantra this year is “Again and Again.” On the one hand you could read that with a dull monotony and emptiness. I wake up, do the things, go to bed, and tomorrow, I’ll do it again and again and again--it’s just going through the motions. Alternatively, I invite you to reflect on God’s creating, sustaining, and redeeming work in the world. Again and again, God re-creates the new day. Again and again, God sustains my soul. Again and again God redeems the @%#%$ of the world and gives me hope that the best is still yet to come.
I think that we have a tendency to get lost in the emptiness of a day, and so we miss the places where God has shown up again and again. We’ve experienced the same day, but what makes it full is the mindfulness and attention we give to the moving of God’s Spirit in each passing moment:
· that movement which again and again reminds us we’re alive;
· that movement which again and again reveals God’s will;
· that movement which again and again rekindles in us our purpose;
· that movement which again and again reconnects us to our neighbors;
· that movement which again and again invites us to be a part of the moving
People talk about spirituality like rivers and deserts or mountains and valleys--times that were sacred or holy and times that weren’t so much. A time when I was saved and a time when I wasn’t. I think it sort of stems from this idea that God’s action and activity in the world is linear. A long time ago God did the things, and then Jesus did the things, and then Paul did the things, and now the church does the things, and I do the things, and one day, Jesus is coming back to do more things and we just gotta hold out ‘til then. But God isn’t rooted in a moment in history. God is time-less and therefore no less active in this moment than in the moment Jesus rose from the dead or the moment I was baptized or the moment I got married, or the moment my kids were born. God is life. Every precious moment of it. And every precious moment, God invites us to life.
What I dread is that for all those moments, sacred and full of the presence of God, how many I let slip through my fingers like grains of sand because I counted them as empty.
This Lent, I invite you to count the moments; to take stock; to notice the movement of the Holy Spirit in each one; to make them sacred.
Jesus dedicates a movement within the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1-21) to living a life full of connection rather than pursuing or chasing after an empty one. Don’t just do the things. Don’t just wear the ashes. Don’t just post an obligatory list on Facebook with whatever you’re fasting from, but instead be real. Be purposeful in how you connect with the moving of God’s Spirit in your life because God invites us not to miss these moments, but to make them holy.