Christmas is great and all, but I’ve always been a sucker for the austerity of Lent.
Christmas is lights and sounds and activity. Christmas is the crazy aunt who bustles in full of stories and steeped in rum cake. Christmas is great. If you like that kind of thing.
But Lent is what’s left when the party’s over and crazy Aunt Sally has packed up her sugar plums and flasks.
Lent is discipline. Lent is hunkering down in the last barren weeks of winter and white-knuckling until spring. Lent is the essential, quiet step-sister who comes along behind crazy Aunt Sally and reminds us.
I’m often reminded how life and death, celebration and grief, couple themselves together like twins in a womb. And it makes sense, this image, because in the womb is the potential for both, the promise of both. LIfe will flutter its eyes open and then, after a time, flutter closed.
And so it is with Christmas and Lent, without one there is not the other. Our faith relies on both stories, and our faith asks us to walk into each experience.
I’ve been knitting this sweater, and I’ll likely be knitting it for some time. When I began, my goal was to finish it as soon as possible because I love it and I want to wear it while it’s still cold.
But as my fingers cramp and my eyes blur, I realize that this is a process, not an end. That the making is what is valuable here, and if I take my time with the process, the product will shine. So, I settle in, when I can, and slip the yarn around my fingers. I loop and twist and turn and I let the process be what it is. I can’t rush it, and frankly, I don’t want to rush it.
Which brings me back to Lent. I don’t want to just get it over with. I don’t want to white-knuckle to spring. I want to walk into it with purpose. I want to loop and turn and twist with deliberation. I want to listen to the quiet step-sister who says it’s okay to just listen.
Do you celebrate Lent? What goals do you have for this time? If you don’t, is there a practice of discipline in your life? I’d like to invite you to share a daily instagram of #quietdiscipline during lent. Will you join me?