My friend Fran wondered on Facebook what people were giving up for Lent. There were some great suggestions in the list when I checked in:
Re-reading the Gospels through the lens of food mentioned in them ...
I would like to give up certainty.
Putting God in my contacts list on my phone to remind me to pray as much as I talk
Living in this economy is Lent enough, especially when you're losing your job
I'm still trying to figure out where I'm going in Lent. Give up? Take on? Both? Neither? Play Scrabble (again)?
Will I take Lent as a season of penitence, with its disciplines to be taken on for the prescribed time and joyfully put aside at Easter, or a time of conversion, where I experiment with new disciplines, work that will begin in the dark and somber days of Lent, but move out into Eastertide? Where should the balance lie for me, this year?
I'm wary of taking on too much, not because it will be burdensome or too hard, but because I fear it will be too easy — wading safely through shallow waters rather than risking all in entering the watery depths. I wrote a couple of years ago of Lent's spiritual bustle: "While Advent’s stillness carries with it a sense of expectation and encourages a silence that lets the quiet voice of a newborn be heard, Lent often seems to bustle noisily, generating its own spiritual to-do list. We give up, take on, confess, convert. But do we sit still?" The psalm certainly says "Be still," but it goes on to say "know that I am God." The question this year might be am I willing not only to be still, but to want to know God in the depths of my heart, to be open to an encounter with God that might shake me to my core, that might wash over me like a torrent?