Preparing for Lent

I have been sitting with what I am being called to practice more attentively during the Lenten season that begins tomorrow. There are lots of possibilities calling to me and I have held them in the space of my heart and listened as well as I can in the midst of what has been a very busy week.  In fact, as I look ahead, I see February is one of the fullest months I have had in a long while, in part because next weekend is the second part of the intensive class I stepped in to teach and later this month I am going to New Orleans for five days for some of my other adjunct work.  Add in all the prep work I need to do for several upcoming programs and the creative work that is calling to me, and I find myself unusually breathless.

I had thought about how much I enjoyed all the new art I made over Advent — and while I hope to continue to create in this season ahead — I recognize this time I need to not spell that out for myself.  In fact, I need to give myself permission to do nothing at all.

I realize that my commitment needs to be simple — I am reclaiming Sabbath time which has slowly slipped through the cracks.  I am blocking off days to rest and renew and resist the temptation to work on a few small projects during that time.  It is so easy to keep working through and think I will take a break later, but hours, days, or even weeks go by.  I will make space to just be and to listen.

The first reading for the Ash Wednesday liturgy proclaims: “Return to me with your whole heart.”  Return, again and again, we hear those words every year knowing that the invitation never ceases no matter how many times we may falter or lose sight of the journey.  Return and move into the fullness of who you are.

I also believe that we have seasons of our lives that call for different commitments and energies.  Right now is a full season for me and I embrace the gifts and opportunities it brings.  But I also breathe into it, creating a space within my heart to tend my ongoing call, knowing that when I listen closely I am invited on a journey I can’t even anticipate.

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

(Image of the hollowed out space in a rock taken at Mt Rainier National Park)

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