I’m more aware of Lent this year being stationed at a Catholic hospital. Early this week there were Marti Gras beads around people’s necks and on Wednesday ashes on their foreheads. It marks the beginning of a pilgrimage of the heart.
We tend to associate Lent with giving up chocolate, TV, and Facebook. It’s not just about outward self deprivation but real internal house cleaning of the gunk in our hearts. And the confession of our sin – true, genuine confession – will then lead us to repentance and the self-sacrifice associated with Lent.
I learned this week that the whole idea of spring cleaning is derived from the Lenten season. Cleaning out closets from unused garments, dusting cobwebs from overlooked corners, opening up the windows and letting in sunshine and fresh air. An excellent picture of the sort of house cleaning that should be happening in my heart as well. There are unused talents, overlooked wrongs, and places within my heart that need to be exposed to the Light.
I am more aware than ever of my selfishness. It’s emphasized right now because my needs feel so threatened by my overwhelmingly needy medically fragile son. So I fight and steel away for what I need by trying to stay in bed longer each morning, letting M watch more TV than I’d like him to, and the most pervasive, being on my phone far more frequently than I should. Sometimes M looks jealously at my phone while we are supposed to be having a conversation. My phone points to what I need to be doing as a mom because it reveals what I am not. Being present with my sons. Fasting from my phone when my kids are around. Removing this habit will aid in my journey and the transformation of my heart.
“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, til each appears before God in Zion.” – Psalm 84: 5-7
The Valley of Baka was literally desert country. It was filled with thorns, wild animals, vipers, and dangers of all sorts. It was also the passageway into the high hills. Israel’s cities of refuge.
I am making that journey now in my heart. At Lent and always, I hope. Through the tough terrain where life is hard and what I want and need is not readily available. Yet I try to make it a place of springs and refreshment. This week here in the hospital for example, has also provided a sweet time with visitors, quietness and reflection for me, and time for M to be with his grandparents. We make the most of it. And go from strength to strength as God promises and provides. From survivor, to one day overcomer in the city of Zion.
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