What is lent? What is the purpose?
Lent can easily become the opportunity for self-righteous self-sacrifice.
But I don’t think that we are meant to walk around with holy, downcast eyes, making clear that we have given up something wonderful because we are so much better than everyone else. That seems to be more problematic than helpful.
What is helpful to me is the belief that the world and all that is in it is infused with the Divine Presence. We are made in the imago dei – and the light-life of the Divine is burning within us.
Instead of self-righteous self-sacrifice, I find that the purpose of lent is to intentionally turn from anything that seems to be clouding the Divine light within us. It is to bring to justice our perception of the Divine in ourselves, in others and the world.
This is internal work that cannot be self-righteously displayed. And it can be done through sacrifice and/or through adding new practices to our lives. But our goal is to become more aware of the abundant presence of God in our lives.
It seems like it is really hard for us to tap into that reality.
The writer(s) of the Song of Songs seems to be fully connected to abundance and gratitude for it.
They savor using all of their senses:
the taste of honey and milk under a tongue
the sight of the beloved, ruddy and radiant
the sound of the voice that they long for
the smell of a lush garden
the touch of stately limbs, like branches of a tree
They write of the lavish beauty that they are encountering.
They write of excess, of being drunk with love!
They write of searching and longing for that abundance.
How the world is infused with the awe-inspiring Divine! And how the writer of the Song of Songs swims in that tangible Divine Presence.
May Lent be a time of giving up the things that skew our sense of the Divine filling our lives with beauty.
May Lent be a time of taking things on that focus our attention on the abundance of God’s presence.
The presence that is delightfully at the heart of everything.