Ash Wednesday Thoughts

I’ll admit it. I woke up this morning on Ash Wednesday not yet knowing what I was going to “do” for lent. Some people give up something. I’ve done that before. Others add a daily spiritual practice. I’ve done that before as well. As much as I thought about it, and talked to friends about it I just couldn’t decide how to shape my lent.

I’ve felt as of late almost as if I’m in a spiritual desert. So much of my time and energy is spent caring for others that I just haven’t had much left over to devote to my own relationship with God. I’ve been thirsting for God. Thirsting for Jesus. A few friends and I started a Bible study at church and I’ve held onto it for dear life. But it hasn’t been quite enough to fill the seemingly bottomless pit of longing for my God. I’ve noticed myself becoming less patient. More stress-filled. I believe there is a correlation.

So I contemplated what I could do to fix this during lent. And I was just drawing a blank.

Meanwhile I was trying to figure out how to introduce lent to my five year old, and I came across the book Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Easter and Lent. It is a wonderful book and was just what I was looking for. We’ve already had a great conversation today because of this book.

This morning in the early hours as I got ready for the day I was frantically thinking about how I could observe lent for myself. I was carrying the baby and making a mental tally of all the things yet to be done in order to get us out the door. I walked past the nursery and out of the corner of my eye I spotted the sunrise. It caught me so off guard I completely stopped in my tracks. I just stopped and stared out the window. It was so beautiful. Once I regained thought I’ll admit my first one was that I wanted to go get my camera. I wanted to capture the beauty. But instead I just reveled in it. I experienced the moment rather than trying to save it for later. I found my creator in that beauty in that moment and I felt such peace. Trying to capture all that in a picture would be useless. And I thought in that moment about making room for God. Maybe that children’s study could be useful for me too.

Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are mortal and that we are desperately in need of salvation. Seeing that sunrise and just being in that moment helped to bring me closer to my savior. This lent I’d like to focus on moments like that. I’d like to make room for moments like that by clearing out the excess.

I did not get my camera. I stayed in that moment for as long as I could watching the sunrise. Then I turned my back on it and sat in the nursing chair where I could see the bright orange reflected in my baby’s eyes. He stared fixedly out the window as he nursed and I’d like to think he enjoyed it too. Instead of making a mental list of tasks to do for the day, I prayed while he nursed. I made room in that moment and guess what? We still got to school drop off on time!

During the day I tried to see how many ways I could make room for God. There were so many. I still had moments of impatience, but for the most part I really did feel more calm. More centered. If my lenten “practice” of making room sounds vague that’s probably because it is. I’m not really sure how it will take shape. But if I chose to read scripture 30 minutes a day or some other clearly defined practice it would just be another box to check off of my to-do list. Making room will take time and practice. It will take mindfulness, but I think it gets more to the heart of what lent is really about. It will change the way I live and think. It will bring lasting change.

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