Oh Ann of my heart, Ann Voskamp, who I reference in this month's church newsletter, still talking about "One Thousand Gifts"... Oh Ann who writes such prolific and heart-clenching blog entries over at A Holy Experience...Ann who is one of my cyber-mentors of how to love God and how to praise God and how to be undeniably human and frail to the point of questioning everything, but still coming back to...God.
She is teaching me about Lent.
I had a problem when Lent started. Don't get me wrong, I loved the Ash Wednesday service with its solemnity and quiet beauty. But to my newly-Christian mind, Lent was all about the giving up of something and I am a creature of things, of food, of luxuries (cheap, mind you). I like most of my ways and tighten around them when all around me feels unstable. Right now, I'm clinging to everything I hold dear because dark times visit. So why do I want to give up something?
But I now realize that Lent is about so much more. It's about recognizing Jesus' sacrifice and honoring that sacrifice. Read some quotes that Ann used on her blog (requoted without permission, but with it were she to know, I hope):
~by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
"Self-denial means knowing only Christ and no longer oneself.
It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us.
Again, self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him."
And then Ann follows up with the incredible realization:
"The realest fast is to hold fast to Christ."
Oh Christ, I have held fast to You these last few days as my best friend, having moved to Texas, asserts that she cannot commit as much time or effort toward our friendship. As I feel alone and abandoned, I have turned to You, Lord, and found the One who I can always turn to, no matter what. I've never known a friendship such as that.
There is no earthly friendship such as that.
Oh Christ, Husband and I have turned to you as depression has hit, as our child custody has lessened, as our hearts have broken. We do not ask why so much now, but "thy will be done."
I am still ambivalent (look - that has the word 'lent' in it) about the giving up of something...
but I see that I have gained so much these past two to three weeks: a better understanding of my relationship with God.
And isn't that what our journey is all about?
Deepest blessings upon you.