I've not counted the days, but we're here, somewhere near the middle of the season of lent. This season of renewed discipline, rededication to almsgiving, of prayer is a solemn, serious time. I fail at all these. Discipline, almsgiving, prayer, solemnity.
Repentance is another word associated with lent. So as I fail, I stop, turn around, try again, try another way, try to do better, getting better at failing all the time. This isn't me beating myself up, this is me trying to take stock as I look around me, trying to gather some courage and find some action to take during this season I'm in, this season of cancer and heart disease. Friends and acquaintances in dire straits and here I sit, sadly lacking in skills for oncology and cardiology.
I read once, long ago, that "lent" comes from an old English word related to "lengthen," as we in the northern hemisphere experience a lengthening of daylight during this season. Maybe that's what I'm looking for. More daylight. More illumination.
Well, who isn't? Who is seeking to sit in darkness?
One of my favorite prayers is comes from our Vespers service:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p.317)
Long nights give way to long days, and we cannot possibly know what the light will reveal. We think we know some things, but if we're lucky, the Spirit will remind us of how little that is and that we walk by faith, even in these lengthening days. Give us faith to go out with good courage.
I don't know what to do. So I do what is in front of me, the work that has come my way, whether it's my days in retail, my nights with freelance writing, my time with my congregation, but trying to be present, trying to pick up what is there that needs picking up. It won't be enough. I will fail and I will try again. Exercises in humility, putting aside the idol of success and trusting that trying will accomplish some small part, trusting in the hand that is leading, in the love that is supporting.
The Reign of God comes in small pieces, broken but glorious.