Lent is a time of wilderness. A time to contemplate the deeper reality of the world. But it kind of feels as if we have been in the wilderness for a long time these past few years. Many of us have been isolated from our communities, friends, and families. Many of us have lost beloved friends and family members. Many of us have lost jobs and struggle with financial challenges. It has taken a toll.
Often people give things up for Lent – sugar or alcohol, meat or social media. The point of this is to help strip away those things that distract us from God, from love, and from each other. Sometimes people do it in solidarity of those who are suffering or in remembrance of Jesus’ suffering.
I appreciate Lent because it’s a time for contemplation. It’s one of the few Christian seasons that hasn’t been appropriated by greeting card companies/candy and toy stores/car dealerships/etc to sell us stuff. Instead, it’s about practicing directing our attention towards God and reflecting on how we might grow in love for God and others.
A harsh desert wilderness can be a blessing. It can help us to get clarity about our struggles and let go of things that turn us away from our deeper selves.
But maybe not this year.
Maybe this year the wilderness could be a path through a redwood grove — the air sweet with evergreen and earth, the branches above like a cathedral ceiling, the soft moss beneath our feet.
Maybe this Lent we plant seeds of hope by offering small kindnesses towards ourselves and others. Maybe this Lent we plant seeds of delight by taking time to write or draw or dance more.
Maybe this Lent, we tend the garden instead of walking in the desert.