Beloved Practice family, how have you been using this season of Lent to prepare for Easter? As I think about the five weeks left between today and Easter Sunday, I still feel like there is a lot of preparation left to do. I don’t know about you, but being new to Lent can still cause me to worry that I’m not doing it well enough…not trying hard enough. When I think about how prepared I should be for Easter and how I’m feeling today…I can get overwhelmed. It can be difficult to prepare for work in the morning, let alone the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior!
In the moments I feel overwhelmed however, I have to remember, this isn’t a performance. God isn’t arching an eyebrow in disapproval every time my Lenten journey goes less than perfectly. The point is to prepare, to re-center, to use every moment I realize I’ve forgotten Lent as an opportunity to come back to the heart of Lent. Slowly, but oh so surely, we can discipline our wandering hearts to bind to Christ.
Last week, I found a tool that I think will help me focus and reorder my desires in a more concrete way. I was browsing in an incredible bookstore in the basement of a beautiful old stone church in Greenwich, when I saw a little bowl of something they called, ‘comfort crosses.’
I am the type of person that fiddles when trying to focus on the uncomfortable. If I’m anxious in a conversation, you can be sure to see me tearing my paper napkin into little flakes of paper, or fiddling with my wedding ring, or constantly tucking my hair behind my ear.
The comfort crosses caught my eye because they had completely smooth edges and were made of soft olive wood in the shape of the cross. When I picked it up, I instantly began to fiddle with it, holding and re-holding it in my hand, running my thumb along the smooth edges again and again. It was truly comforting, and it pointed me back to my preparation of Lent and to my focus on the cross.
As I’ve been setting aside time to reorder and focus my wandering heart on God, holding this little piece of wood has helped me in my practice as I’ve prayed and practiced the examen. It’s kept me focused on the cross and kept me comforted when Lent begins to overwhelm or make me anxious.
Whatever it is that can help you refocus, recenter, or be reminded of the reason for this season, I encourage you to take the risk and try it. Maybe it’s remembering to pray every time you see a clock or check your phone. Maybe each morning before you start the car or hold the keys in your hand, you can take a moment and remember the cross. Remember how that without it, we are dust, and prepare your heart to receive Christ once more in Easter.
As promised, here are a few more lenten resources for you to consider this week as you figure out your practice. Keep checking back for more reflections, opportunities and resources as we post throughout the week.
Blessings and peace to you,
If you would like to join them, either Friday March 6 or Saturday March 7, just go to the website www.mylifeissacred.com and use the discount code “PRACTICE30” to get $30 off the price.
We feel that this would be an excellent opportunity for any of you seeking God in solitude, silence and reflection this Lenten Season.
- Lent Reflections by The Transforming Center
This beautiful 40 page booklet offered by The Transforming Center is designed to help small groups, spiritual friends, and individuals walk through the Lenten season together. It includes reflections by Ruth Haley Barton and is a perfect tool to introduce people to the practice of following the lectionary through the seasons of the Church year.
- Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent by Orbis Books
This is a truly unparalleled collection of some of the most beloved spiritual writers reflections on the themes of Easter and Lent. A wonderful resource for daily devotionals, readings or family discussions.
- Lent For Non-Lent People: “33 Things To Give Up For Lent” And Other Readings by Jon Swanson
This is a great introductory book for anyone who wants to practice Lent ‘with the training wheels on.’ In clear and simple language you can dive into explanations of lenten prayer, fasting and sabbath. A great book for anyone who isn’t sure where to begin.
- We can hardly go a week without mentioning our dear friends The Brilliance. They released this excellent Lent EP full of beautiful songs specifically for Lent. The deep words and immersive sound would make an excellent tool in your Lenten Journey.
- If you’re interested in something a little different, I’d love to recommend the choral music of Eric Whitacre. In particular the haunting piece entitled, “When David Heard.” If you are a fan of choral music at all then it is worth giving this piece a listen. For me it is a haunting lament that draws me back to the cross. The intent was for the choir to sound as though they are weeping throughout the music – a dark and sobering piece for Lent.