The terrain of lent can be daunting. Truly looking hard at our lives in this season is not so much about how sinful you are (though the church will enjoy the power-play of that conversation) as much as it is about where you find freedom and where you do not. Who absolves your sins and how they do it is not the issue. The issue is that you look so deeply and so compassionately into your life that you can see where you have freedom and where you do not.
And be careful about the small stuff. Our scriptures say that those who can be trusted in small things can be trusted in big ones. And so too is the spiritual life. Do not worry about keeping a holy lent. Worry about how kind you were today to the bag stuffer at the grocery store when you were in a hurry and the bag stiffer was slow. Do not worry about what prayers you say or how many or for how long. Worry about the unkind word which almost flew from your lips to your neighbor or spouse simply because you were right, and had them in check and mate. Do not worry about smudges on foreheads or the length of your vestments. Worry about how much time you have been in God’s loving, healing, soothing, challenging gaze in silent, wordless adoration and humble self-offering.
Lent can be a time to think the terrain is all desert – and Easter the time to think the terrain is all daffodils and lilies. Neither is the case.
Rather, the terrain of life is full of growth and death, cliffs and pastures, gardens, the occasional scorpion, bunny and even some toxic waste dumps. Do not worry as much about the removal of the dump or the paving of the jungle or the filling of the ravines. Instead, use lent to see the terrain for what it really, honestly, truly is. And chose those small acts of loving kindness – even to yourself – as the way to make you path.