"Deserts unclutter the soul. The hot desert sun vaporizes all manner of luxuries."
In her Lenten book, 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast, author Alicia Britt Chole asks, "In an age suffocating in self, any willful fast from what much of the planet would deem a luxury is to be commended. However, since commendation cannot be confused with preparation, I must ask: can such polite fasts alone truly prepare us to be awed by Christ's resurrection?"...and then she adds, "God seems more interested in what we are becoming than in what we are giving up.”
I am challenged and intrigued by her analysis of our current spiritual dabbling. When we “give up” certain things for Lent, we are still in control of what and how and when. We are giving something back to God. We “suffer and struggle” and then congratulate ourselves when we come to the end of the day or the week or the 40 days on succeeding at our Lenten discipline. I, for one, have not noticed a stronger connection with God after such efforts. Instead, I have noticed a certain low-grade pride in accomplishment that has nothing to do with God at all.
“Faith, in general, is less about the sacrifice of stuff and more about the surrender of our souls. Lent, in kind, is less about well-mannered denials and more about thinning our lives in order to thicken our communion with God. Decrease is holy only when its destination is love.” Alicia B. Chole has captured my own hope and desire in these few sentences.
As we enter these six weeks of Lent, take time to prepare yourself to be “awed by Christ’s resurrection”. It is a season like no other. The way we spell love is “T-I-M-E” and the way we love God is to spend time in prayer and preparation. We have a guide to Lenten disciplines available at All Souls or you can download the PDF from here. God bless your sojourn in the desert. I may see you there, but we’ll not talk just then, we’ll wait until the journey’s end come Easter.