I think Lent may be my favorite season. (Or it may be that my favorite season is the one I'm in.) There is a deepening that takes place in Lent. A constant sense of invitation. There is a sense of urgency to it, but it's the urgency of a shoot breaking out of the soil. Not the urgency of things that need to get done.
I have spent Lenten seasons weeping, weeping. Feeling the awful burden of broken life. Weeping through every prayer. Only ceasing to weep when I would sing. I have spent Lenten seasons feeling the absence of alleluias.
And I have walked through Lents in contentment, beautiful contentment. Feeling Spring break in around me. Drawing my hand across the bark of every tree I passed. Noticing the yellows and startling greens of Spring's first growth.
I have had silent Lents. And barely noticed it was Lent. Surprised all the more by Easter's triumph.
I have knelt to receive ashes and I have refused ashes altogether. I've been the penitent. And I've lit cigarettes and tried surly on for size.
This year, a recurring theme I've heard already for Lent has been rest. One student in our class said her church is using the phrase "Rest and Relaxation" as their Lenten slogan this year. She kind of rolled her eyes, because the phrase struck her as shallow. But I'm not sure.
Yesterday, at the Episcopal Church, the pastor in her homily talked about the quietness of Lent, the sense of time set apart for study, prayer, and to open ourselves to God's relationship with us. She spoke of the wellspring in the desert, of our need for the "moisture of our baptism," and the wellspring in our hearts.
Last night, I heard similar themes. An invitation to put aside busy-ness and rest in God's presence. Not a command to do so. A demand of the season. But an invitation. Slow. Breathe. Rest. Bask. Open.