Last week, we stood on the threshold, preparing to step forward. This week, we step off the threshold and there before us lies a Choice.
This week, we choose our direction.
It can too often feel like we have no choices, but we always have choices and this week, we’re asked to look at our choices. And make one. We can pause, bring our hands to our hearts, and look right, and look left, but it’s time to make a choice and begin.
Who do we want to be? How to we want to be present in this world? If we already have that answer, how do we make that happen?
There’s a story I love about how too often we come to a crossroads and we open up a lawn chair, sit down, and never leave. We never choose. We never grow. We never explore. We just sit at the crossroads, too afraid to choose. We let life pass us by. We watch other people having adventures and being brave and being strong, succeeding and failing (failing forward), but we never try.
Lent can be so many things. I’ve spent the week in the “company” of many Soul Friends and Soul Books and explored. Lent is often a practice of renunciation and punishment. Lent is often a journey of death and loss. But it doesn’t have to be.
Lent is the Christian Spring. Which we are very much understanding right now. We desperately want warmth, but it’s just not there. We’re sad and frustrated, sometimes even angry. The challenge of testing and waiting.
Lent starts with Ash Wednesday. The dust. If you enjoyed the Contemplative Practice on the website, with Owen, you saw that the dust can be infinite. The dust is full of infinite possibility. Endless potential. The big, universal endless potential. And the endless potential within each one of us.
The dust can also be the dirt. The earth beneath our feet. The infinite and the earthly. The big and Awe-full and the small and wonderful.
The Practice of Choice. We can be angry and frustrated by the weather. We can be angry and frustrated by the challenges of life (and there are big ones right now for us collectively and us individually). Or we can make a choice and UnFold with the Spring and the Christian Spring.
Maybe our choice is stepping off the threshold are into deliberate challenge, intentional practice of grace, a letting go, a stripping away, a taking on, or something else. There is something beautiful about a deliberate daily return to a simple challenge that helps us to understand our strengths and our temptations.
Lent represents the practice Jesus took on before his ministry. Stepping off the threshold and making a choice to enter the desert, the wild. We all minister to one another and to do so most effectively, we must sometimes stir up the dust and learn from the stirring up as the dust settles. We must allow the dust to settle as well. Too often, we continually stir up the dust and never find the settled dust, the Being Still, to know and become.
The preparation is to choose deliberately out of a reassessment, a reevaluating, a recalling. What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What tempts us? What can we expect when the dust is stirred and we are challenged?
Who do we want to be?
How do we want to live?
What is our relationship to Grace?
How are we living? Who are we? And what choices can we make to move toward being better? We can choose the paths we’ve always taken. The comfortable, safe, familiar paths. But Lent asks us for deep truth from our selves (PAUSE). Is the safe, comfortable, familiar path the direction we should, or even can, follow? Or is it time to choose a new direction?
Uncomfortable. Unfamiliar. Scary. The path that will help us grow. To help us grow in service and ministry to one another. The path that will help us cultivate gratitude and love. Love in all things…not just the familiar, safe, comfortable.
Stirring up the dust, choosing a different path means we will awaken fear, worry, and uncomfortableness. Even anger and frustration, sometimes hate. And choosing a new path, honestly, is inevitable right now. There isn’t any path that is truly “normal” or “familiar” and perhaps clinging to what is past is keeping us stuck in the “way things were” or setting up those lawn chairs at the crossroads, or standing on the threshold unwilling to step off.
Step off. A new beginning is awakening!!
It is through fear, worry, temptation, and uncomfortableness that we are awakened, enlivened, and reminded of what truly matters. The dust is stirred and settles. When it settles we settle into a stronger, more faithful version of who we are meant to be.
Can you hear the call? The call to love? The call to gratitude? The call to what truly matters? The call to Work?
What is the invitation of Lent for us this year as we choose to walk a different path and stir up the dust? What do we do on the path and who do we allow ourselves to be?
Lent is Church’s spring. It is a path covered with thorns and snags, waiting and disappointment, cold and raw, uncomfortable and full of the unexpected. Lent gives us the opportunity, and time, to choose and walk a path for resurrection in ourselves and in our community. To walk a path of Devotion that begins inward and spirals outward as our hearts and hands do God’s Work. And even the smallest of our works and words…ripples. Make sure the dust we are sending onto the wind is of Goodness.
A last note: be gentle and trust. We all feel kind of a mess, but it’s time to unfold and tentatively dip our toes off the threshold, to take a peep up out of the dirt. And it’s okay that we are feeling messy and unsure. We’re like gardens.
Sure, if the garden is carefully tended and put to bed in the fall, we’re in better shape for the spring growth and resurrection. But even if we don’t put our garden beds perfectly in order in the fall, the garden still grows. Maybe it’s a little more work. Maybe it takes a little more time. Maybe it’s a little more wild. But it will grow, resurrect and be Beautiful!
Begin. Step off the threshold. Choose a dirt road, a winding path, or a marked highway, but choose and begin walking. Follow it through the stirring of the dust, even if the dust is blinding.
It will settle. Just as spring will arrive.
And know. Regardless of the journey, it will be beautiful. You will be beautiful. And you will not be walking alone.
We are never Walking Alone.