Those of you who have followed my off-and-on-again blogging for a while will remember that for several consecutive years, I did my own separate Lenten blog. Each day I would read the daily readings assigned by the church, reflect upon them, and write a blog entry about what they stirred in me.
I stopped doing that blog a few years ago just because it felt like it was time. The joy and spontaneity had gone out of it and it felt like drudgery or even worse, like a self-serving exercise. So I turned my attention to other Lenten disciplines.
This year, I committed to myself that I would do a daily Lenten devotion. The first few days of Lent I used some printed materials I had picked up at the Catholic Women’s Conference in February, but then I stumbled into some wonderful resources at the Creighton University Online Ministries website. (http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/index.html) They have a section called Praying Lent that leads one through a daily devotion built on the assigned reading for the day, and I have found those devotions very good. The reflection each day is written by a different member of the Creighton University faculty or staff and I have found them quite effective and thought provoking.
There is also a link to a Lenten Online Retreat. I’m sure to some that would seem like a bizarre mixing of concepts – isn’t a retreat where you go to get away from online stuff? But I have found it extremely moving. And in all honestly, I have probably given it only about 35% of the effort it deserves. But even at that, it has made a difference for me. It gives you something to think about and then tells you to try to hold that concept in your mind and heart and focus on it in the in-between-times of your day. It talks a lot about letting these concepts work in the background as your conscious effort is going into the regular activities of life. And while I feel like I’m only having so-so success at doing that, I can still feel the benefits.
And today, after reading the daily devotion and the thought starters for the Third Week of Lent, for the first time in a long time, I felt motivated to blog about my journey. I don’t succeed at staying focused on Lent and all it means every single day. I don’t even succeed at keeping my Lenten discipline every single day, though I try and I don’t miss too many days. But even with my failings, I feel God reaching out to me, reassuring me that he is always there, hearing the cries of my heart and filling my life with so much love and plenty that I am awed and humbled. For me, this year, God’s messages are pretty strongly about hands-on how to live my life, how to walk the talk of my faith, how to see Jesus in the tangible, real-world needs of those around me. I think that message varies based on who we are, where we are, and what we need. But in Lent 2014, for me, that is the message I’m getting. So I just rededicate myself to trying to look for Jesus in those around me and to trying, in my own weak, humble way, to do what he would have me do.