Lent for a Year and a Half

I am ready for a change, and change is coming. I can feel it in the air, even with the current cold snap. A sea change, a weather shift, a transition in the season in my life.

I see my life through the lens of the liturgy of the church. I know that I am a liturgical nerd, I have always been a little more in tune with the seasons of the church than the general public. I get aggravated when the Baptist church down the road puts an Easter message out on their sign two weeks before Lent ends.

Not only do I have a deep appreciation for the rhythms of the shared liturgical calendar, but I also see my life set in similar rhythms and patterns. I have had weeks of Ordinal Time and Kingdomtide, I have had months of Pentecost, and I have currently been living in a year and a half of Lent.

The past year and a half have been marked by pain. Usually that pain was and continues to be migraines that hit me unsuspected at the most inopportune times. I lost count of the number of sermons I preached, and worship services I led with a migraine. The pain of migraines also makes it harder for me to do other things, and so my life is marked by a pain that interrupts and interjects into spaces where it is truly not welcome. I have kept on doing what I can with my vocation and calling, and I have been able to be part of the community and life of my churches.

The pain continues, but it seems to have lessened. I can see a space in which I might not be tiptoeing on egg-shells to keep from falling into a migraine attack. I am doing better. I can see a way out. The year long Lent is coming to a close.

How appropriate, then, that we are in the Paschal Triduum of Holy Week. There have been some darker nights in my life, even as the pain of the migraines continues to wane. I find myself in an alternate space between the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the night that Jesus spent in the pit. With deaths of loved ones and a continued struggle for my own health, I find myself alternately praying Psalm 88, Psalm 22, and Psalm 23. I am ready for a new celebration. I am ready for a Psalm solely of praise, perhaps Psalm 148. I am ready for a new morning to dawn and the Gardener to come and speak my name, inviting me into the light of hope.

I am so close. I can feel it. I can sense the tightly furled buds of spring ready to explode into triumphant color. Easter morning waits for me, and soon will declare that I am invited into a new life. And what a glorious day that will be. I will be ready to again shout Alleluia.

Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed. And I, and you, are raised up in him. Alleluia.

Surprise Blessing: Monarch Butterfly
Surprise Blessing: Monarch Butterfly

Black Thumb

Black ThumbThis post is part of a series for Lent 2013. I am posting a photo for each day of Lent with the prompts from ReThinkChurch. Some of the photos have reflections, like this. 

Who am I?

Today, I am a black thumb. Usually this is not something to brag about, because gardeners will hope that “black thumbs” will stay far away from anything growing. But today is Ash Wednesday. So all day today I have had black soot ingrained into the creases of my thumb. Our morning began in a Diner, offering ashes for people at the beginning of the day. Near lunchtime, I had a meeting with someone who would not be able to attend a service, and so I was able to offer him ashes as well. After dinner, we gathered to worship, confess and repent.

With this black thumb, comes an imprint of a cross on my forehead. “You’ve been marked!” A woman said to me, and indeed, I have been marked. Marked and sealed, imprinted with the sign of repentance. A cross on my head is only the outside mark, inside, I am marked and changed.

I dressed this day in greys, blacks and heathers, somber colors for the beginning of Lent. I carried ashes on my face, remembering sometimes only seconds before smearing them into oblivion. Tonight I will wash my face, and the ashes will be gone, but I pray the imprint will remain. I pray my black thumb will be a reminder of the love of God that grows and shares with abundance.

Soon we will begin to plant seeds in the soil, hoping that our green thumbs will help things to be fruitful and multiply. But for now, I pray that my black thumb has helped imprint the love and grace of God on me, and on those around me.