“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” ~Philippians 3:10-11
For Christians, the season before Easter (March 1 – April 18) is a time of preparation, a time when we intentionally follow Jesus–traveling with him to the foot of the cross, watching him heal and teach along the way, anticipating his resurrection. Some Christians call this time Lent, with a focus on discipleship, sacrifice, and purification. For me, the season of Lent has been a time of noticing and becoming. I notice the things that keep me from being who God calls me to be, and I nurture the things in my life that keep me growing in God. For the last several years I have taken up practices that empty me of ego, pride, distraction, smallness; an emptying that creates more space for me to be filled with God.
Last year I gave up saying “yeah, but” and took up a practice of listening with curiosity. One year I gave up my watch and took up a practice of being fully present in each moment. Another year I gave up sweets and took up a practice of gratitude for my body and healthy food. This year, I am giving up offering advice and taking up a practice of learning from others. I use the word “practice” over and over because it takes a lot of practice. If we’re emptying ourselves of a true barrier to grace, it will take a while and a lot of mistakes for us to notice and shift. It will take practice for us to be open to God, so Lent also becomes a time when we lean on God’s mercy and grace, hoping in the certainty of God’s transformation.
When we are open to this time of preparation, we can sense ourselves becoming more and more like Jesus–poured out and readied to participate in his resurrection, his new and full life.
This season requires companionship, though. We cannot make this journey alone–we need Jesus to lead us, the Spirit to fill us, and our brothers and sisters around us to walk with us. At the Bremen facility, some of us are getting connected with other Lenten journeyers. Actively seeking out those connections is important to all of us. My prayer for us this month is that we might find good company along the way to the cross, and that we might be courageous and persistent in walking this road to new life.
Chaplain Laura Stone