By Ellen Di Giosia
I’ve been giving up things for Lent for a number of years now, and it’s become a bit mundane. I could give up Starbucks, of course, or chocolate, or eating out, but I’d just go hog-wild on Easter Sunday, and something tells me that Jesus wouldn’t care for that. So for the last few years, I’ve thought about disciplines that, once practiced during Lent, might become long-term changes for the better. This year my friend Pam Durso wrote something* that seemed to be calling my name:
“What I have come to understand is that the intent of Lent is not just to give up or take on. The intent is to pay attention. Lent calls us to be attentive to our relationship with God, to our connection with others. Lent also asks us to be attentive to our own our bodies and to our souls.”
Pay attention! I thought. Truly meaningful (and maybe not too hard). Ash Wednesday went well. But by day 2, I was seriously questioning my commitment when my 8-year-old son got off the bus and launched into a 40-minute non-stop monologue about, among other things, what kind of laptop he wants (Good luck with that, kiddo!) and how many video games he will need to invent and sell to buy a mansion. I persevered that day, though I’m not sure the itch of my smartphone-addicted fingers brought much glory to God.
As we’ve moved through Lent, I’ve begun to pay attention to some other things: What’s with the tension in my shoulders and neck? I’m holding some anxiety there – maybe that’s something requiring my attention. I’m so easily moved to tears these days. Is it possible that the emotions on the surface are a reminder that recent griefs cannot so easily be set aside? This woman I don’t know well is telling me an awful lot of personal stuff. I have an opportunity to be a friend to someone feeling isolated and confused.
Paying attention has given me more sweet times with my family, more wonder in the universe, and more rest for myself. But the more I pay attention, the more I’m also aware of how much brokenness is inside me – and how much brokenness is in the world around me. Easter Sunday, I’ll pay attention to what I’m wearing and how many eggs need to put out for the hunt and how to play my role in the services, but I’ll also be paying attention for that moment when I realize once again that Jesus has come to make all things new.
*Pam’s blog post to link: http://www.nextsunday.com/pay-