Lent in everyday language is written off of the pages of my own story where I play the leading role of wife, mother, author, and sometimes-scholar of spiritual formation/soul care and prayer. For each day of Lent, I am committing to fast from my coveted morning sleep ( yikes) and practice the daily examen. Simply put, the examen is a centuries old practice that helps us notice where God is working in our everyday-ordinary-activity filled lives.
If you have even a small desire to join in this 40-day journey, please know that you do not have to get up in the dark like I am! But perhaps in this season of Lent where we might be tempted to give up eating sugar ((again)) or not participate in Lent at all ((again)).. perhaps we can make a change in the way we commonly spend 30 minutes or more of our day and simply ask ourselves two questions about our day.
That’s it. Two questions.
Give up some time spent on pleasurable activities for 40 days. Read through some reflective questions. Respond here or in a journal or on your own blog. And the hope for all of us is that we will learn together how to recognize what things in life are life giving and what things in our lives are more likely to bring us despair and disconnection. Hint: If you are doing the examen in the morning hours, you may want to reflect on the day that has just passed. If you are doing these exercises in the evening, you would review the events of the day you are in. Just saying.
Day One Questions
For what moment today am I most grateful?
Today I am most grateful for the moment I was able to have with my nine year old daughter who is hurting from a difficult friendship. She asked me to walk her up to the school building but then told me ” That’s good mama. I’m fine now”. I stood and watched her walk straight into the place where her heart could surely be bruised again- across the pavement– getting smaller and smaller in the distance. She never turned back. It is a tug for me when I want to be perfectly available to fight against all of my children’s painful moments, that somehow my grown-up presence will protect their little souls from damage. I am deeply grateful that God is growing both of us in our ability to walk through pain without letting the pain walk its way all over us.
For what moment today am I least grateful?
I am least grateful for the moment when I was late for an appointment ((again)). I stayed in the parking lot just a few minutes too late talking about nothing of consequence while the margin grew less and less for me to leave and be on time. I arrived over 15 minutes late and I noticed how often this is the case for me. I justify this behavior by telling myself that I just live “in the present” and ” I have no concept of time”. But today when I walked in to the small room where the meeting had already started, I recognized a lack of care for others when I consistently show up late. This is old behavior and it generally puts mean in a cycle of guilt/shame/feeling immature. Not fun.
How does this practice of examen help you notice God today?
This is a time where the church globally recognizes a season of intentional prayer, fasting and reconciliation in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.
I want to welcome you to an online space where you can discover some spiritual practices again ( or for the first time), share stories about where you notice God in your daily life, and perhaps explore some of the ways that you can make space for God in this 40 day season. ((Technically, Lent is a little longer than 40 days, but the early church took Sundays off from fasting as they tended to celebrate the resurrection each and every Sunday)). So whether you embrace a more orthodox view of this day and decided to fast from food for 40 days or whether you take these 40 days as an opportunity to explore some ways to be more charitable, I want to welcome you on a sacred journey that we are taking as an online community, exploring ancient practices with modern technology and relevant life application.
Where do you sense God inviting you to something purposeful in the next 40 days?
Have you ever participated in Lent? What was that experience like for you?
in our world obsessed culture, it almost seems redundant that i am writing something at all. that is really how i view these words typed out in front of me. but writing has a loftier goal for our human spirit, for the ways in which we long to be interconnected at a level deeper than the surface skimming that we do most frequently in our verbal winsome wordiness. writing is for the ways in which we think better when we are forced to close our mouths and open our ears to a quieter voice, a still and small voice that prompts us to ask more questions of ourselves and the world around us. this is a simple process, writing. it is letters and words and phrases that express something otherwise left unsaid. in the marketplace of ideas, mine are lost among the mileu, but they are not lost to me along my journey. this is also a complex process, writing. words commit us for a time to an idea or notion and when we share these written words, they become our present identity to the world. do we dare to write the things which normally dash around inside our head? do we dare?
in a season where much of our world is observing a tradition that makes us intentionally aware of our addictive, compulsive and otherwise thoughtless behavior, we have this yearly opportunity to let these behaviors have less control over us. it is called fasting. it takes place during a time called Lent or Lenten season.
there are so many things i could deny myself that would open new opportunities for learning and listening to God. there are so many things that distract me from pure dependence on God. i am inviting my children to fast with me for the next 40 days and to bring their new thoughts together at the end of the day. i am hoping that we will all learn from each other in some way the value of listening to what is central to life and quieting the louder and less important voices.