This year my Lenten discipline has been a lot more ambiguous than in years past. I have been working on being attentive and more present in my life and in my ministry. Like I said, ambiguous. But in some ways, the practice has been quite a blessing. Instead of busying myself with a practice or suffering through giving something up (and probably complaining about either), this year I have been able to step back and see what is working and what really is not.
The wonderful thing about this practice is the ways in which I see that I am being fed. At our parish, we have had a series of speakers to prepare us for the construction of a community garden that could feed our neighbors in need. The speakers have been an incredible blessing to me, showing me the simple ways that we can use our vast property for good, but also the ways that we can be a part of some really incredible ministries that are already thriving.
I also just returned from a great conference that fed me much more than I expected. So many times in the Episcopal Church we get downhearted about the future of the Church and its leaders. But I just spent time with about twenty of the Church’s leaders and I was blown away by their passion, intelligence, humility, and enthusiasm. As opposed to a gathering of competitors (Episcopal priests have a tendency to do this from time to time…), it became a gathering of people truly wanting to learn from one another, to celebrate successes, and learn from failures. I have not been this hopeful for the Church in a while. For that I am grateful.
Another source of nourishment this Lent has been the practice of following Lent Madness. In the first couple of match-ups, I found myself getting indignant when my saints “lost.” But as the weeks have past, I have found I am worrying less about how many I “win” and how much I am learning. Last weekend, I was worshiping with a Diocesan group and the lessons for the liturgy were from the feast day of Chad of Litchfield. Imagine how excited I was to immediately know his story before the Bishop was able to explain it to us. What was once yet another competition has become a great source of nourishment for me in this Lent.
I hope you are finding sources of nourishment this Lent. I hope your practices are teaching you something about your relationship with Christ or at least inviting you back into relationship with Christ. During this season of Lent – a season often marked by fasting – I hope your journey is full of filling nourishment for the soul.