Biblical Scholar, Seminary Professor, Episcopal Priest

Having A Holy, Cranky, Lent

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection…I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word…

I usually take the invitation to the observance of Lent in the Book of Common Prayer as an adjuration to have a holy Lent and bear it with me through the season. I don’t know if I shall have a holy Lent this season. I am too busy having a cranky Lent and we are barely 15 hours into it.

It started in the last couple of weeks when folk on social media started talking about what they would do. Some made reference to those post a picture a day for Lent projects and my skin just crawled. I suffered through them last year and tried to figure out how many folk I would have to block or mute this year. Apparently I had a somewhat cranky Lent last year too.

Then I saw all of those “Ashes2Go” pictures today and I got grumpier. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea – and practice – of offering ashes to those who cannot come to church in the morning. We are dependent on each other’s labor and I honor those who work hours that I have the privilege to avoid. It was all the posts of folk doing that ministry that rubbed me the wrong way.

Now let me be clear, I am not judging anyone, individual or church. The title of the post is about me having a cranky Lent not anyone else having an inappropriate Lent. I am doing the work of self-reflection and have discerned that I am cranky. Perhaps it is because I have wrestled mightily in my soul and with my spiritual director about what I do and don’t do for Lent, what works, at what I feel like a failure, what brings grace and freedom. I do know about myself that my practices need to be private at this phase in my life – it was not always so and need not be so for anyone else.

Confronted with everyone else’s notion of what is a holy Lent I am tempted to compare and second guess and perhaps compete. I’m also aware that I am doing the work of self-examination, one way respond to the gracious invitation (or solemn adjuration) to have a holy Lent. Looking at my inner crankiness is holy work, holy, cranky, work. I am having a holy Lent. A holy, (wholly) cranky Lent.

And now, having blogged about it, I think I’ll tweet and Facebook my post because I didn’t give up social media for Lent. But before I do, I will pray the beautiful words of the Ash Wednesday collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made…

No matter how cranky I am, God loves me. Amen.

 

6 Responses

  1. WOW. You can’t know how much I needed this. Spoken right into my heart, that last part. thanks.

    5 March 2014 at 4:38 pm

  2. Jan

    Thank you for this, esp crankiness.

    5 March 2014 at 5:03 pm

  3. I needed to hear that last part. Thank you.

    5 March 2014 at 8:01 pm

  4. Ken McCaslin

    Today everyone seemed to question what I had on my forehead while at work. While it maybe crankiness, for me I was sadly disappointed to think so few knew that today is Ash Wednesday! With so many empty seats in church, that makes me cranky, yet we cannot seem to find ways to get people to join us.

    5 March 2014 at 9:43 pm

  5. Alex

    The last part is great, but I’m unclear why your skin crawled with the post a pic a day and ashes2go stuff…what about those made you cranky?

    28 March 2014 at 11:43 pm

  6. Kym

    I know I’m late to this party, but maybe I was supposed to read this post today and not at the beginning of Lent when this Baptist was having a cranky “You all DO know today is Ash Wednesday” moment at bible study.

    29 March 2014 at 8:10 am

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