For me, Lent comes slowly.
I am always ready to rush into Advent. The beautiful mystery of God drawing near has me decorating the house and planning family devotionals weeks in advance. The promise of ‘God with us’ pulls me forward into December with deep longing.
But Lent comes slowly.
My own faith tribe doesn’t follow the Lectionary or church calendar so I receive little outside warning before Ash Wednesday. Often, I remember Lent has begun when I see ashes on foreheads at the grocery store.
Even then, Lent comes slowly.
Perhaps it is because I expect Lent to be about what I do: my sacrifice, my repentance, my labor. And that is hard work. I feel my heart resist such an exercise with excuses of stress, busyness, and exhaustion.
So, Lent comes slowly.
But then, seeping in from the deep spaces of my soul, I feel reminders of Advent. God has drawn near already. God became flesh and walked and talked and ate and sweated. God became flesh. Flesh is merely dust, reorganized. God became dirt just as God made me from dirt. And I am beloved dirt.
Lent comes gently.
God calls to my soul from the promises of Advent. “I am here. You are already mine.”
And my soul cries back, “I am beloved dirt that seeks to be recreated, again; celebrated dirt that longs to be near to its Creator. God, why do you love dirt? How do you love dirt? How can dirt return to God? Where has this soul, this light, surrendered to dirtiness?
Lent has arrived.