Whew. For some reason, I was really yearning for the Lenten season this year, and I have a suspicion some of you have been doing so, as well. I'm not sure if it's because the pandemic descended upon us two Lents ago, or if it's because my own particular set of struggles the past year have made me especially weary and prone to ruminating about my own mortality more than usual (although I must ask, what is "usual" anymore?). Or maybe it's all of that, and the strange comfort that a penitential order brings me, leftover proclivities from an Evangelical upbringing.
So, when it came time to discern a discipline for Lent, I found myself recoiling, physically and spiritually, from any form of fasting or abstinence types of discipline. When asking myself why, I realized I hadn't been kind to my whole self lately. At first I felt a small pang of guilt, even though I understood intellectually that Lenten disciplines do not necessarily mean fasting from something. Up until this year, I had always chosen a fasting discipline, but this year was going to be different. I was going to add a non-fasting discipline. What I heard from my gut was, "remember you are a whole person; remember you have a body." For someone who lives in her head a lot, I didn't appreciate the message I was hearing, but I knew it rang true. My body needed acknowledgement and nourishment. Practically speaking, I decided to commit to doing at least thirty days of yoga, both yin and yang. If anything helps me remember I am more than a brain, it's movement!
In a tangential sort of way, this reminds me a bit of our gospel reading for today. How often do we feel that cutting something out is the only solution to a problem? Or that harshness is the answer? Maybe you also decided to add in a discipline this year, instead of fasting. How have you felt its nourishment?
The message I heard within myself, and the resulting discipline may not seem very religious in of itself, but corporeality is indeed a Lenten theme. "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return" is very similar to "remember your body in its fragility and mortality." If you're like me, you also believe that a soul is woven throughout one's body; they are one. To take care of one's body is to take care of one's soul.
We've had a difficult couple of years. I hope you are, like me, finding Lent a time to pause and reflect, yes, and maybe fast, but also, finding moments of extra care and reprieve as you reflect. And I pray that we can grant each other opportunities for nourishment and rest in times of need.