Last year was the first time I have ever observed the Lent season. I have fasted before. I have saught to be more disciplined in things. But Lent is…..different.
I love Lent. This may seem to be an unusual comment to make about a season that begins with having ashes imposed on one’s forehead followed by a 40 day observance of self-denial. But if you know anything about me, you know that I love a good journey. A long-term goal, the journey of a good book, just the journey of life and looking at it as such.
And Lent is a journey. In the Episcopal faith, we journey through Lent by focusing on the ministry of Jesus and the time leading up to His death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. In our personal lives, many people give up something or “fast” in self-denial but our pastor encourages us to also work on a discipline of some sort. Our prayer life, our outreach, our attitudes. So it’s not just about giving up something, it’s about becoming better disciples as we walk the journey of this season, and all the ones that follow, with Christ.
Doing this last year for the first time was groundbreaking for me. I am here to tell you that after Ash Wednesday, 40 days of Lent, Palm Sunday and then Good Friday service including the observation of the stations of the cross, I had the most meaningful, hallowed Easter worship experience of my life. The joy of my salvation was reborn in a new way and I not only knew in my heart that Christ was arisen, I felt in with all of my senses.
I am, by nature, an analyst, introspective. Perhaps that’s why Lent is a time I look forward to. Maybe it’s because I know what’s coming on Easter. Either way, as I’ve said before, I am learning as I get older that sometimes the journey is just as meaningful as the destination. While the Lent journey most definitely culminates in Easter celebration, the process of the Lenten season is meaningful, and even joyful if we allow it to be as it allows us to see our weakness but God’s strength, love, and faithfulness in spite of it.
And the best part? No matter how much we may feel we failed during Lent, the end of the journey is ALWAYS Easter. Always life. Always mercy. Always resurrection.