Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Be prepared…

Forgive me. I’ve written about underwear; the long version, and how last Monday- our first real Arctic weekday this winter- I forgot mine and my foster son’s. It was a rookie mistake from a man in his eighth year of Minnesota cold. Oops…

The oversight began with the boy waking up later than normal, which was fine since extra sleep at his age is precious. Still, the school bus was nearing. We quickly dressed, brushed teeth and got shoes/coat on. Then, we waited, while I silently high-fived myself for finishing morning routine swiftly. The bus came. Little guy left.

And as I walked away from the door, I checked my phone’s weather app. The screen read: -6 degrees. “Welcome back Arctic Air,” I thought. “You’ve stayed away longer than normal this winter.” I mean, seriously, we made it into January with barely a day below thirty! Counting my blessings, I smiled. Until it hit me…I’d sent the kid to school without long johns.

That wasn’t an immediate problem, thankfully. For now, he’d only be outside long enough to get into and out of a warm bus/school room. But they might do outside recess. What if there’s a fire drill? When the temperature’s 30 degrees and your foster kid essentially has an internal biological fireplace (seriously, it’s amazing how constantly warm the little dude is!), it’s no big deal that he’s not wearing long underwear. He’s got a hat, a warm coat, gloves. Thirty degrees and Arctic Weather, though, aren’t similar weather conditions. I knew this day should’ve been different. I should’ve been ready. I rapidly dressed and drove to his school, long johns in hand.

Funny enough, after three miles, I noticed a chill and realized that in my haste to take T his forgotten clothing, I’d failed to don my own set! For shame, Shane. For shame.

Have you noticed that Lent and Easter are early this year? So it seems to me. Lent begins February 10. We celebrate Easter on March 27. Thus, unless you’re already paying attention, Lent could arrive soon and you’ll feel unprepared for this season of spiritual renewal.

I hope that doesn’t happen for any of us. After all, it’s nice to take advantage of Lent, mainly because we regularly get out of practice with certain things regarding faith, don’t we? During “Ordinary Time” (i.e. not holidays or holy seasons), our prayers become more infrequent or distracted. Our patience isn’t as full and kind as it should be. Our anxieties overwhelm our serenity.

Part of that’s just being human. Part of that’s our culture. Whatever the reason, The Church in its wisdom, centuries ago, declared an annual period of spiritual refreshment- Lent- knowing that the burdens of daily life can habituate us away from our best selves.

Let me describe this personally. Occasionally, yet consistently, I will notice how my spiritual focus has wavered without even intending so. It’s like I know I should’ve put on “spiritual long johns” to keep warm from the insulation of Christ’s love (…strange metaphor…just work me…). But I’ll have become distracted by the stress of schedules, the shame over weight gain, the confusion about effective parenting, the joy of following the Broncos more closely than I ought. Some of that- especially the parenting- includes prayer and God, but not as much as would be best, unless I’m making a conscious effort. Without such effort, I get used to less engaged spirituality.

Lent, then, is a time to hit reset, to shock my system into restoring balance between devotion and daily pursuits. I’ll give up something, or take up a new spiritual practice, in order to warm and energize my soul. The question is whether we’ll be ready once the season fully arrives. Given that it’s approaching quickly (and we’ve been focused on other, pressing, important things), I wouldn’t be shocked if it hasn’t crossed your mind yet. That’s been true for me. But I know I don’t want to neglect Lent. Because my life is colder without Christ’s presence. So I’m hoping to prepare, in the next week, to greet its arrival feeling organized and excited. Feel free to join me!

Grace and Peace,

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