The past few days, I have thrown out Isaiah’s words about fasting and The Book of Common Prayer’s suggestion of a Lenten discipline. Frederick Buechner suggests that Lent is to some extent like tithing. As tithing in many religions suggests giving one-tenth of one’s income to holy use, during Lent, we give something of ourself to God’s use with approximately one tenth of a year, 40 days. He says after Jesus was baptized, Jesus went off into the wilderness asking himself what he meant to be Jesus. As Christians, Buechner proposes that during Lent we are supposed to ask ourselves one way or another what it means to be ourselves.
This is one approach, although I don’t think it is for me because I tend to have enough trouble with forgiving myself and engaging in mental self- punishment. He suggests that we look in the mirror and ask ourselves what do we see we like, and what do we deplore. We look at the things we have done in our life and ask which one would we undo and which one made us happiest. We are to think about if we had one message to give as we leave earth what would it be, and what would we do with the last day of our life if we knew when it would happen.
To answer these questions honestly, for me, would be very depressing business. Although I know a lot of people believe Lent is a time of sackcloth and ashes, self examination, and reflection. I just have a low tolerance for self-inflicted pain, that I would rather give these 40 days to holy use in a different way. If I am supposed to spend this time asking what it means to be me, then I think it is more in God’s vision for me to use it thinking about the me I think God wants me to be and how do I get there, than the person I was.
We all have different paths to take during Lent. Even if sack cloth and ashes are how one chooses to begin, the good news is the end for all of our journeys this Lent is Easter.
Your Friend, Webb