Today is, of course, Ash Wednesday. It is a day of fasting, self-denial, and repentance as the 40 days of Lent begins. Nothing could be more foreign to Americans than the idea of repentance, unless, of course, it is the idea of self-denial and fasting. We have become a people of over-indulgence and excess in almost every area of our lives. We are impatient with the slightest inconvenience, and our lives are thinly spread from edge to edge and overstuffed from floor to ceiling. Lent asks us to consider if this is really how we want to live.
More than that, though, Lent invites us to spend the 40-day season considering if this is really how God wants us to live. Is this the kind of life for which we were designed? Is this the fullness of life, or is it gluttony, which keeps up from being nimble and responsive to life’s offerings and opportunities? Does our greed take from others without really enriching us? Does one more this-or-that bring us more joy than helping a neighbor in need or walking through the woods and discovering new flowers or mushrooms?
Repentance is the call of Lent to try another way, to turn around and explore another path. The shame- and fear-based churches of our childhoods gave the word “repentance” a bad reputation, but I think the Spirit is inviting us to take a 40-day journey joyfully, trying out a new adventure in living. The spirit is inviting us on a journey in which we carry less baggage, letting go of the things we worry too much about in order to discover that what is truly valuable in life is rarely a thing.
Many of us have spent too long chasing after the wrong dreams for the wrong reasons. Lent is the Spirit-of-Life saying, “Repent, turn around, and take a new adventure with me. Let’s skip to a new beat, which just might bring you to a place of genuine resurrection.”
Rev. Michael Piazza