So I've been agonizing over what to do for Lent.
People often ask me why I practice Lent at all, being a Baptist by my upbringing. The main reason I do it is I like the structure the liturgical church year gives to my life. This has been especially important, since the Gathering, the church I was involved with for its ten-year life span, folded in the fall of 2008. Since then, my family and I haven't really attended church much. You might say we've been taking a break, recovering from over-involvement in church work between the Gathering and my last five years as a paid pastor, which ended in 2007. At any rate, without a church home, I've felt listless, like a wanderer. Perfect for the Lenten theme of Israel in the desert. I'm definitely in a desert period.
But I struggled this year with what I would "do" for Lent. I haven't always given things up, although the years I did without video games, coarse language, and especially the year I gave up giving unrequested advice were positive experiences. Other years, I practiced reticence, listening only to music with uplifting lyrics, doing a spiritual discipline. Really, it's only a matter of focus, because often doing something positive results in the jettisoning of something negative.
This year I asked friends on Facebook to give me their opinion on what I should do, and while many were very helpful, none felt like they were building me on my journey. I mean, Lent is criticized for being an empty ritual, and it can be if all you're doing is giving up coffee because "you're supposed to." I adopted Lent as a practice, and have the option of not practicing it. Last year I didn't give up anything, as I was too damn busy with my full time school work and full time teaching to afford giving anything up. I really didn't have the wiggle room. So I guess I gave up Lent for Lent last year.
Today it hit me. I don't journal anymore. So I'm journaling. But I'm journaling here at Gotthammer, blogging about where I'm at spiritually. A season of confession, with the blog as the booth, me as confessor, and the priesthood of believers and everyone else listening.
To be clear, I have no intention of airing my dirty laundry. My past is past. But I thought I'd air my current desert thoughts. I found it comforting when Real Live Preacher aired his so many years back, and I thought that, given this point of flux in my life (moving into a full-time paid teaching position at Grant MacEwan University in July), it was a good time to reflect on how I'm living my faith in the wake of leaving paid ministry.
Fifteen minutes a day is all I'll give myself. I've only got three minutes left today. Concise confessions. Maybe I'll miss a day or two, but I'll be here for most of Lent, reflecting on what it means to be a Christian when you're no longer paid to be one.