Lent - fear, dread, self-loathing, scarcity, self-denial – is that all there is to it? Certainly inward reflection of what we have done and not done is a worthy act - no matter the church season – but really must it be so dark?
Recently during a spiritual formation group discussion, one of my study pals stated she felt Lent might, could be, should be and why not, a season of Joy. At the same meeting as her comment, we made a group decision to enter into a meditation time during the hours we normally share together in study. We invited our congregation, if they were so moved, to join in meditation also. I don't know if few or many will take up the invitation but I suggest that many may hesitate to spend the hour or so in what they might view as a time of lament, darkness, and depression. I go back to my friend's comment regarding a season of joy...........why can't our reflections encompass more than dread, more than self-recrimination?
And so my friend's thoughts were powerfully echoed during a sermon preached here in Maui on Ash Wednesday – Lent, why not an invitation to joy?!
"Lent, my friends, is an invitation to joy. It is an invitation to build a treasure house that we can visit anytime, a treasure house whose doors and windows you can leave open and invite others in. I wish you all a holy Lent."*
*Quote from the Reverend Bill Albinger, Rector, Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, Lahaina, Maui....I will be happy to forward you the full sermon if you say the word.