Walking through the wilderness of recent years has taught me that it is very easy to “fall out of the habit”. For many of us, there are aspects of the life of our churches that have simply not returned. Some people have taken the opportunity given by our collective pause to reassess their church roles and step back. Some of our habits have been quite difficult to get going once more. For our community at Holy Nativity, it has taken until last month to be able to restart Rock Mass each month. Like a steam locomotive whose fire has long since gone cold, it has taken much work and a lot of effort to get many or our church communities moving once more.
It is with this backdrop that we approach Lent after a brief window of ordinary time in so many aspects of our daily lives. This may be a longed-for season in which you aspire to form new spiritual habits. Perhaps however, the thought of now losing something else familiar fills you with dread. Maybe you are just clinging on to the ever growing to do list with your fingernails and thoughts of Lent aren’t even on your horizon yet.
Before I came to faith, the people around me often approached Lent like New Year’s resolutions. Pancakes and syrup were followed by a day or two without Mars Bars. Later as an adult convert, my now wife Ruth, taught me to enter lent as a spiritual discipline, bringing us back into the presence of the Divine. As we have grown together, Ruth has taught me that Lenten discipline can shape and mould our discipleship, forming habits that extend long beyond Easter Morning. From where I sit at my desk, I can spot the office bins from the corner of my eye. These simple baskets are a remnant from the year we took up recycling everything-that-is-possible. An Ikea steel-mesh reminder of that which was taken up that persists throughout the ages.
Whether enthusiastically seizing each day or wearily dreading the wilderness, may we each discover habits old or new, big or small that bring us closer to the presence of God as we journey together towards the cross.