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Sunday, February 10, 2008

ash wednesday on sunday

And so, my Lenten journey begins. Albeit, four days late.

Tonight I went to my parents house for dinner. We were celebrating my Grandmother's 85th birthday. My mom cooked, we sat around and talked, and we sang. It was really nice to spend time with my family. After all, one of the reasons I decided to move back to Oregon was to be here for moments like these, especially with family.

Shortly after dinner, I hit a wall. I was exhausted. Coming off my 17 hour day during Homecoming yesterday, and with a stomach full of delicious food, tiredness set in. This could be expected, and it really wasn't a big deal. After a little more conversation, my mom drove my grandparents back to their place. After she left my dad and I started talking about computers (we are both looking to get new ones), the condition of our lawns, and other not so important things. But in the midst of this conversation, I found myself getting annoyed at my dad. I don't know why. Perhaps the fact that I was tired played into it. But in and of itself, I think that excuse is a cop out. When there was a short break in dialog I said, "I'm going to take off." I hurriedly got in my car and drove away.

That's when it hit me that I was annoyed over nothing. I turned off the CD to think. I began to pray out loud for answers, for patience, for peace.

Unfortunately, in the midst of my busyness, I have found myself losing patience and getting annoyed more and more lately. As I prayed I knew that the answer is the need to slow down, to be still, to be more honest about my limits, to be quicker to lay my burdens before God. I started in the car. I forced myself to drive just below the speed limit, which was really tough for me. I thought of Matthew 11:28 when Jesus says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." This verse hangs on my wall in my bedroom, and I love the promise that it conveys. But how often do I take Jesus up on his promise? It starts with me needing to come.

When I got home I pulled out the Lent reader that my friend Mark Benjamin, our Director of Discipleship and Worship Arts, put together for the campus. I think God had Mark put it together for me specifically. One the first page it talks about returning to the basics: repentance and faith. Sounds like what I need to do. It also includes a quote from Thomas Merton that says "the greatest enemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness." More confirmation. (Refer to the name of this blog.) Mark also exhorts our community to "make an effort together this Lent to slow down and attempt to cultivate an attention for God." As if I needed any more confirmation that God wanted me to read this tonight, I came across this quote in the first devotional, "There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience (bingo) and stinginess.

I end this blog with three final pieces from this devotional: a verse, a question, and a prayer.

Joel 2:12-13
"Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?

O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again.