Lent begins today, with Ash Wednesday, services to remind us of our fragility, sinfulness and the grace of God. Lent looks busy. Synod. Vestry meetings. Courses. Extra services. Lots of stuff in the life of the church.
But Lent is wilderness. Lent is Jesus going into the desert for forty days to be tempted. Lent is space in the church's year to let us try and find God in emptiness. Or for God to find us in our emptiness.
Some of my earliest church memories are, as a primary school child, going in a long crocodile for a mile or so down to our church for stations of the cross on Wednesdays in Lent. The memory is of dry, slightly chilly days, with dusty roads and pavements. The memory is of not quite understanding what was going on, but living it in a way that was just normal. The memory is of rapid words, memorised responses, kneeling, standing, crossing oneself. I am sure the memory has been conflated with adult understandings (such as we adults are actually able to understand such things), but the sense is of emptiness.
Clergy may find it hard to achieve that sense of emptiness. We are purveyors of the emptiness to others, and that can be a rather busy and frantic activity. But we need to find that space. Open our eyes to the wilderness around us. Open our hearts to the wilderness inside ourselves.
Lent starts today. May the wilderness open up a way before us all...
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