In my faith tradition, growing up, we did not practice Lent. I had never heard of the Liturgical Calendar until I became a United Methodist as a young adult. Even then, churches I’ve belonged to over the years have not practiced this tradition. Even now at the Presbyterian Church I attend, we only celebrate the common church holidays like Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. I’ve often described myself to people as a spiritual mutt. I was raised Southern Baptist, joined the United Methodist Church as a junior in high school, and became Presbyterian when we moved to Greenville in 1998. Really, I’m probably a wannabe Anglican or Episcopalian. My journey toward the liturgical has been slow and arduous, alone and interesting.
Last year I stumbled onto a post by @prestonyancey on Twitter about a new planner called Sacred Ordinary Days, linked to @JennGilesKemper. I got in touch with Jenn, pledged on her Kickstarter campaign to get the planners published, and then got to spend some time with her at the Allume Conference back in the fall. A private Facebook page was set up for people who were using the planner, and lots of discussion ensued about how people were engaging with the planner and the church calendar. I bought a book called Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0830835202/ref=sr_rp_1?m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&ie=UTF8&qid=1458075743&sr=sr-1&keywords=living+the+christian+year), which has helped me understand some of the significance and history of the seasons. I’ve also read Let Us Keep the Feast by Jessica Snell, (http://www.amazon.com/Let-Us-Keep-Feast-Collection/dp/1937063658/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1458075878&sr=1-1&keywords=let+us+keep+the+feast), which has also been a helpful resource.
This year, I decided to focus on the church calendar and make it a part of my daily time with the Lord. Starting at the beginning of the church year with Advent, I have used my Sacred Ordinary Days Planner, my liturgical church calendar from www.asacredjourney.net and the Daily Office Lectionary app to engage God in a new way for me. Fast forward to Lent, and I decide for the first time to fully participate. Not because everyone else is, or because I think I should, but because I really felt like I understood it for the first time and really wanted to do it. I gave up social media, which for me meant Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I gave up sweets. I took the social media apps off my phone and turned off notifications on my laptop. I did okay for the first couple of weeks. My husband and I enjoyed the Sunday Feast Days, preparing a little something special for dessert that day and I admit I liked quickly checking in on my online friends.
And then I fell off the train. I found myself peeking at Facebook when I was bored, quickly looking at Instagram or Twitter. I felt guilty when I did it. Probably my Baptist background, right? This past Sunday I bought a pecan ring for our breakfast before church and made some Nestle Chocolate Chip cookies for dessert. The kind that are scored and you break apart and cook for 12 minutes and they taste like heaven in your mouth. There were three left over at the end of the night, and let’s just say that yesterday, WHICH WAS NOT A FEAST DAY, I ate two of them. #lentfail2016
According to Lacy Clark Ellman’s Sacred Season calendar, which is available here http://www.asacredjourney.net/shop/,
“During the season of Lent, we mirror the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness as well as the model of Christ. Through fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, we embark on an interior journey, entering our own deserts- not for the sake of self-abnegation, but instead to make space for transformation. We fast from the things that hinder our growth, we give of ourselves in ways that bring life, and we seek out ways to commune with God in hopes that, like the flowers that come with springtime, our true selves might flourish in the Light of the Divine.”
So today I get to choose. I can beat myself up (self-abnegation) or I can once again seek to commune with God through fasting from social media and sweets. Not because there’s a rule, not because it makes me holier or more Christian, and not because God won’t love me as much if I don’t complete my Lenten fast without any mistakes. Instead, I can choose to do it because in some strange way it reminds me of my sinfulness that separates me from God and my ability to turn toward Him and his great mercy. Again.
And in a twisted little bit of irony, I will share this post on Facebook and Twitter, since that’s the only way people know to read my blog. Grace again.