“What was I thinking?!” That is what my mind was screaming when my alarm went off at 6:00am on Ash Wednesday. I pushed the snooze button, I reset it for 6:30 and then 7:00 when I did manage to get up – sort of. I am not an early morning person. But I have been trying to work on a schedule that will give me space for personal and spiritual self-care and it seems that an earlier start to the day will help accomplish that. So to reset my clock, I have decided that during Lent, I will set my alarm for 6:00am Sunday-Thursday and give myself a bit of a break on Friday and Saturday and go for 7:00am. It is my hope that this will be a pattern that continues beyond Lent and that it will be a new road that I walk.
It will not be the most difficult road I walk during Lent. The most difficult road will be our journey though the various themes found in Matthew 5-7, The Sermon on the Mount, as Brian McLaren, in We Make the Road By Walking, has this as our Lenten focus. In the first week we have already heard that we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world and the challenge to get out of our comfort zone. Now in the remaining four weeks, we will wrestle with anger, forgiveness, retaliation, reconciliation, enemies, love, our inner spiritual lives, worry, anxiety, God’s care, judging others, and being hearers and doers. It is easy to find all of those themes overwhelming, especially when we read Jesus’ challenging teachings about each one. There is also the realization that this is not simply something we can look during Lent and then forget. As we grow and deepen in our understanding of these texts, we are to grow and deepen in the way they shape how we live out our journeys of faith from this time forward. The road will get more challenging the deeper we go into Jesus’ words.
Just as I begin to think this is too much – too many themes – too much expectation, I took some time this morning to read a poem by Mary Oliver from her book, Thirst, called “Messenger.” Her first line pulls it all together, “My work is loving the world.” Her poem goes on to share how this work includes being astonished, rejoicing and telling of the eternal.
Somehow it now seems more manageable … our work is to love the world, be grateful and share how we live forever. Jesus’ challenging words in the Sermon on the Mount is about loving the world. I am glad my alarm went off at 6:00 am this morning and that I got up and read this poem.
Blessings upon your Lenten Road,