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As March 2021 approaches, we’ve been hitting landmarks that continue to remind us of what we didn’t know at this time last year. And how unaware we were that we were living through the end of an era. Oh, we were getting some pretty good hints by Ash Wednesday of 2020, but it seems that most of us just didn’t get what was going on or what was coming.

I’m not even sure how to pray this Ash Wednesday. What is appropriate when over 2.4 million people worldwide have died from COVID-19, including over 488,000 of my fellow Americans? As a people, we are diminished by the loss of so many. Grief tears at our hearts. If there were any doubts that from ashes we came and to ashes we will return, 2020 put a whole new emphasis on that statement of mortality.

Yet in this time of great loss and fear surrounding physical health, I am especially reminded of how human I am otherwise. Even as I am so grateful that I live and breathe, I am aware that my heart has hardened so much in this past year. Yes, I am sad at all we have lost—especially those people I’ve lost (not due to COVID). But when I sat down to write tonight, I was confronted with how angry I am. All. The. Time.

And not just angry, but also unforgiving toward those who do not approach the pandemic the way I do. More so lately as one in my own circle has been engaged in battle with this deadly virus.

This Lent I will sit with this anger and my God—and try to hear a way back to loving others.

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

Yoga has this way of bringing out feelings or thoughts you don’t even know you are having. Honestly, I would tell you this was a pretty good day. I completed some work, exercised hard, discovered my favorite driving route was construction-free after about a year and a half while noting the absolute beauty of the April day, and got answers to a few questions.

Not bad considering yesterday I was in a bit of a funk after finishing reading a book and comparing myself too closely to the unfavorable protagonist—or rather the main character of the story who settled for so little for himself. It’s one thing to be happy to have time to read a good book, but it’s another thing to think there isn’t anything more beyond that.

I promise you I don’t want to be that person, even if I do like my solitary at-home activities.

Thankfully, today’s intense rain followed by the blue skies that enhanced the pinks of the crabapple blossoms, the emerald-green grass, and spring-green baby-like leaves unfurling from trees reminded me that it is finally really, really spring, even if we will still have occasional cold spells ahead. Ask anyone who lives here—there is nothing like the snow-capped mountains on the horizon to set off April’s colors.

But yoga took me back within, back to going from one minute to the next when I could only look for the balance and/or strength to complete a pose as best I could. There were no seasons, just breath and sweat and trying to remain mindful.

So, when it came time for final relaxation, I did not expect emotion. Yet, there Robyn was, saying to breathe in “Let” and breathe out “go”—the very phrase that caught up with me a few weeks earlier.

Let go of what? Everything? Specific things? The past? Worries?

Oh, but how can you let go, if you try to answer that with your mind in the midst of the breath?

You just have to go with the breath and let the unnamed tears come, then brush them away and roll up your mat and go back out into the world outside yourself.

There that oh-so-gorgeous day greeted me once more. As I observed all that glory, into my head popped, “I am so glad this long Lenten season is almost over.”

And once again I was crying. This was not about the past 40 days in the desert—unless you consider 40 days to be a symbolic number. No, this was about my wanting to stop living with so much sad news.

However, Easter is a few days away—first I will try to share with Christ his bitter cup even though this year I seem to need the Good News (now!) for my own peace of mind.

In fact, I need not only the peace of the resurrection, but also the secular chocolate bunnies, colored eggs, and rebirth in the earth.

So during these next two days, I will also sneak in a few sips of the tangible signs that show me life continues—forever and ever more. Amen.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

I feel as if I’ve been on a Lenten journey for a couple years, but I’m so scattered I haven’t been following many Lenten practices.

Last week was Ash Wednesday—hard to believe a year has passed since the last one. Attending Ash Wednesday service is one of the best ways to get myself to return to a more contemplative life.

Only so far that experience hasn’t really reined me in—no doubt my attitude that night did not help. I arrived at the service angry and beyond frustrated with some of the bureaucracies in my life. I felt like a worm, but just didn’t want to turn to God for help. In fact, during Pastor Ron’s sermon, I pulled out my notebook and paper and started writing about feeling like Gregor Samsa in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Can you say dark mood?

Kafka’s hopelessness is nothing to pack for the Lenten journey.

What I need to do is follow the instructions from the wise women in my spirituality group at church. Other than one woman whose only child will be graduating when mine do this spring, the rest are grandmothers. They are in a phase of life when they can focus more on themselves—but they choose to focus on God first.

These women, as a group, have developed various centering practices to get themselves to slow down long enough to hear God. Their Lenten discipline includes using Lenten prayer beads, along with prayer and contemplation of psalms, for getting into a daily Lenten walk with God.

So far I have only made it through one day of the beads, but I resolve to pull myself back onto the path—to not wallow in Samsa’s type of paralysis. It is good to have something tactile to guide me into a renewing slowdown. I so need this. It is time for me to be still and remember that I know God.

He hasn’t forgotten me and neither should I forget to turn to him and take that walk—the one that leads to Golgotha—and then beyond.

When I take quiet time with God, it is so much easier to remember that the Christian promise of metamorphosis makes us much more, not much less.

Practice, practice, practice.

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