Lent used to conjure images of the desert. A wandering in a dry and thirsty land without relief until the oasis of Easter. It was six weeks of endurance.
At the Ash Wednesday service this year, the priest spoke of our experiences of wretchedness and seasons of self exhile.
In this context, Lent is a return home. It’s hearing the shout that it’s time to come home for dinner, like when you were a kid. You dropped whatever it was you were doing and whatever company you were with, and immediately headed for the familiarity of your own front door.
There is so much that distracts us from our best intentions. It’s so easy to follow a path that leads further than we might imagine. It’s easy to get lost. Lent is a means of returning home. No matter where we are, we can make the Lenten journey back to the cross and the promise of Easter.
Lent isn’t inflicted on us by the church calendar. It is a gift. It’s a soft and persistent voice calling us to drop what we’re doing and return home.