Lent is always a very personal time. It’s a time when we focus on our relationship with God and try to spend some time concentrating on that friendship. We may do it through increased fasting, reading, praying, attending services or good works. It should be a time when we go deep…deep into ourselves and deep into the heart of God.
For some, it is a difficult time, a desert experience. A time when we let go of some things that we may tend to hold on to, and that can be so painful. The desert doesn’t allow us to bring a lot of baggage. We enter the desert as we are and allow the barreness and solitude to be our teachers. Lent can be dry, lonely and sorrowful. Going deep inside often reveals parts of ourselves that we tend to bury. Lent invites us to spend time there, face to face with our true selves. The self that God sees and loves, even though it is ‘fallen’.
Once in a while, lent is a mountaintop experience as it was for me a few years ago. It was joyous and I almost felt guilty about the fact that I was lavishing in lent. I kept coming back to this phrase, ‘I did it all because I chose to….I did it all because I love you!’ The heaviness of lent that year was offset by the joy of love. Yes, it was tough, yes, the cross was heavy, yes, the crucifixion was unbearable, but it was Christ’s free choice…He chose love, and love sometimes hurts. Lent was and is all about love. His love for me, my love for Him, and our love for others. In this light, lent is a mountaintop experience.
So, in a few days we begin the journey….into the desert, or up the mountain? We will see where prayer leads me this year. Either way, it is the path of love, and it leads to joy, the joy of new life, the joy of resurrection.