Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Ache & Hope of the Next Forty Days

Print via Amber Thomas Makes.

Lent starts today.

I'm thankful for this season in a way I never knew possible. I'm thankful for the promise and the Hope and the faith and the Life that was established through this season. I've always celebrated this time of year because it's so beautiful, but -in doing so- ignored the tragedy that comes on that fateful Friday marking the end of Lent.

This time of year is the opposite of Advent, where the frill and sparkles run rampant. There's no tiny promising babes, virgin mama bellies, and fun surprises wrapped in ruby red paper. In comparison to the magic of Christmas, Lent is average, normal, just another series of days. Lent is humdrum, plain, arriving suddenly in the middle of an already busy week.

We suddenly realize Lent is here when it's Wednesday morning and the woman behind us in Starbucks has ashes on her forehead. We realize it and hastily throw together our fast for the next forty days (acknowledging caffeine is off the list because we've already got our grande mocha latte).

Lent begs us to let it be more than a fast. It wants out of the Friendzone and access to the depths of your spirit. It pleads for us to linger just a little bit longer beside Him and His promises. It sings a lullaby over our crazy-making hearts, a lullaby that's offering us slowness.

This year Lent says slow down instead of abstain. 

Lent's different this year because of the weight and the hurt that is walking alongside death. I think back to the last forty days with my dad. Forty days that were long, jittery, full of bittersweet. Forty days that had us asking about the timing of his end, wondering what dying could hold, wishing the fullness of peace is upon us.

And then I zoom in on those last forty hours. Those last forty hours filled with starving questions and begging souls. Forty hours baptized in salty tears and bookended with joyful praise. Forty hours full of good-byes exchanged between staff, family, and his departing soul. Forty hours that cracked open my heart and left me wondering how to clean up the mess. Forty hours spent thinking on the disciples' role.

How did they live through those last forty days? They knew -details and timing and the story was there. We knew he was dying, just like the twelve did. But they missed it -the plan laid forth in parables and tales fell on deaf ears.

We knew the promises of Heaven, the ache of seven years' suffering,  but the suddenness of death nearly broke us in two. And I know, that split happened in the dozen hearts of the disciples. As we sat and held vigil in the small facility room, we could only hope our space was enough. And in those final days, how the twelve must have felt.

I wonder: how did they walk alongside his death for forty days?

Lent is brutal and gorgeous. 

It's heavy with encouragement, laden with faith, breaking open our spirits and souls.

May we feel it all -the ache and the glory- over the next forty days.

- - - - - - -

I've forgone the fast this year and replaced it with dedicated daily time with Him. I'm still struggling there, still hurting in the quiet contemplative moments with Him. And so, I am reading Coming Home (a free printable download from Edie Wadsworth over the next 40 days), if you care to join.

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