I don’t know what your experience with Lent is like, but Lent does not come easily to me. I was raised in a tradition where Lent was something other people did. It was brushed aside as unnecessary. When I was a child, Lent was for kids who couldn’t eat chocolate or had to swear off TV for 40 days! I was glad to be well free of it.
But as an adult, I’ve become intrigued by the idea. I’ve heard Lent explained as a time of preparation rather than just a time to abstain. We have Advent to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Lent helps us prepare to receive the blessing of Easter.
I find that the idea of Lent as a “season of making room” resonates better with my heart now than it did all those years ago. We’re all busy people; doesn’t a season of simplicity sound restful? Lent used to feel restrictive, but now it feels like a deep breath.
This year, I had been thinking about what to do for Lent. Nothing quite felt right until one day near the very beginning of March when I walked into my kitchen. I should stop here and mention that this is not just any kitchen. This is my miracle kitchen.
When we purchased this house a little over a year ago (that was miracle No. 1) we had the funds and opportunity to renovate the kitchen. This is the first home I have ever owned. The brand-new kitchen was something I had not even asked for and God gave it to me anyway. It was a miracle and a blessing and it was my delight.
On that day in early March it was stacked to the rafters with dishes.
I stood there and realized that I was not treating this kitchen like the blessing it was. It had become familiar. It didn’t feel like a miracle anymore. And there, I realized, was my Lenten sacrifice. I decided to better care of this gift and leave no dirty dishes in the sink at the end of the day.
Greater things have been done for God, I know, but this was my place to start. Each night, sometime after dinner and before bed, I head into the kitchen, turn on some quiet worship music and do the dishes. I seek out God as I stand with my hands in hot sudsy water. And, no surprise at all, God has been meeting me there.
I don’t know why I often expect God to be harsh, because he is never harsh with me. He speaks softly, and somehow it’s easier to listen when my hands are busy. There’s a bit of a forced stillness to doing the dishes. (You can’t be on your phone with wet hands.) I am drawing closer to God, and as I do that, he makes me more like him.
Lent does not have to be grand; it only needs to be sincere. As I’ve moved through the simple rhythm of this season of Lent, it has been a restful experience and a beautiful one. If you’ve never experienced Lent, I encourage you to try it; there’s still a month left! It’s never too late to start! Ask God to show you where you can make some extra space. He’ll meet you there.