I love Cole Arthur Riley’s simple description of Lent. She says, “Lent honours the season of wilderness experienced by Christ and his ancestors. In Lent we make space for grief, and our own interior dissonance. And we commit ourselves to bearing witness to the suffering of the world… it is a season to choose a habit or desire to give up as a kind of sacrifice in solidarity with Christ and the suffering. But we can also consider taking up a practice for collective good…” Riley asks, “how will we bear witness to the dust?”
In Lutheran schools we continue to commit ourselves to the LEQ Essential Practices of Restorative Practices, Service Learning, Chaplaincy, Christian Studies and Staff Formation – and I see these as disciplines which are forming our communities every day – but Lent is for me a special opportunity to consider what we might be called to as we prepare for Easter. I feel I have been called in two directions as Lent has begun!
I am reading Andy Crouch’s book, ‘The Tech-Wise Family’ (my kids seem to have both become tweens overnight!). His thoughts have sparked lots of reflections and invitations for me.
Andy reminded me that spiritual disciplines such as Sabbath (whatever that might mean for you) don’t just help us to enjoy deep restorative rest, but help us to continue to make good choices every day about what and how we use our time. He goes on to encourage practices which nudge us to put ‘tech’ in ‘its proper place’, and to embrace intentional disciplines which do the same. I love Andy’s encouragement that intentionality around tech can help us to be growing our character and living into our full humanity. One of his suggestions is to have a go at downing tech (read screens ) for an hour a day, a day a week and a week a year. I feel challenged during this period of Lent to set aside screens for a day a week… and in turn as Cole Riley suggests to take up something in its place.
It was actually also Andy Crouch who drew my attention to the wisdom of my 8 year old daughter. Andy suggests that we develop wisdom and courage through relationships, and in my family I see this is true.
A few days ago, I noticed that Elise was organising herself for breakfast. The special cake plate – (along with a whole lot of other clutter) was still on the kitchen bench. So she decided that she could use the pretty elevated cake plate as a place setting for her cereal. She then collected the vase of pink lilies from the other side of the room to place beside her as she ate her breakfast. I was in that moment struck that amidst the mess (read busyness & a little chaos) Elise was practising attention to beauty and being present.
I felt in that moment a strong invitation for me to practice creating small beautiful spaces and intentionally stopping to pay attention to the beauty which God loves and has created and which we in our own small ways can also create and treasure.
In the dust of our lives, may this period of Lent serve us all as an invitation to be near to the Christ who suffers with and for us, and who also surrounds us in great beauty.
Our identity and formation matters as we seek to live in service of our God of love and in service of our neighbours. I give thanks for the gift of this Lenten season.
Thank you & blessings for all the ways you have worked with me and encouraged me. You will continue to be in my prayers!
Stephanie is the outgoing Director – Identity & Formation, with Lutheran Education Queensland.