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A Lenten Primer…

15February2012

There is a lot of ugliness in this world.  It isn’t hard to miss.  Turn on the news or turn on your computer and you are bombarded with images of ugliness: people being ugly to people; events and catastrophes that distort beauty and demean our Father’s creation; stories of oppression, aggression, and depression.  Our consumption culture thrives on ugliness.  We want to know the next celebrity sleaze story.  Our political spheres throw dirt at the other side more than they define their side.  The church is no better.  Parents yell at children.  Children rebel against parents.  Husbands and wives treat one another worse than they would their enemies. Ugliness has become a way of life for us.

I pray that we give it up for Lent.  Give up ugliness.  Find the beauty again!

Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a fan of Lent.  The weight of this season has always rested heavy on my shoulders.  Some would say (myself included) that this is kind of the point.  Lent isn’t supposed to be cheery.  It is a time of preparation, of sacrifice, and of reflection as a means to draw closer to Christ.  And it does do this when we are intentional.  But it is also a heavy season.  Dare I say that there is ugliness to Lent?  It matches our weather: cold, damp, and grey.  So here is my challenge to us for this year.  Give up the ugly!  Find the beautiful!

As we prepare to trudge through Lent, look past the ugly and search for the beautiful.  Find the beauty in creation again.  Take a picture a week of something that is beautiful—something that catches your eye.  It might be tough at first—but look for it.  There is beauty all around you.  Are you stuck in an ugly job?  Find something beautiful about it.  Spend some time thinking, praying on, and searching out beauty in your daily monotony—It’s there.  I promise.  Fall in love again with your children.  How are they beautiful?  What does their beauty open you up to seeing in your world?  Seek out the beauty in your parents?  Do something beautiful together!  Add to the beauty around you so that others might see it too.  Seek the beauty in your spouse?  Why did you fall in love all those years ago?  Uncover that beauty again—search for ways it has changed, grown, and become even more beautiful.  Share with one another—for 15 minutes a day—how each other’s beauty enhanced your day.

Have you ever noticed how much more you are aware of a particular car model on the road after you sign the lease?  Once you notice it (because you are driving it) your eyes are opened to see the same model everywhere.  May it be the same with beauty.  As your eyes are opened to see God’s beauty, you will be surprised how prevalent it truly is.  Find the beautiful!

“And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight…”  Genesis 2:8-9a

You are surrounded by beauty—and that beauty is most visible as we walk in union with the Holy Gardener. Walk with Jesus this Lent.  See the beauty that He sees.  Tend and keep the beauty of His garden.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 15February2012 10:08

    For some reason Lent has never felt heavy to me. As a contemplative, it is almost a preference for me to spend many hours in solitude and silence, visiting the hidden spaces of awareness that are stimulated by God’s word. I find joy in the reality that during Lent the church can encourage God’s People to focus more upon God’s action than upon anything else — Advent is the other named as penitential, and God-focused– but most folks use the “traditional” preparations for Christmas as a way to mute its power.

    Years ago I used a resource (now out of print) “Choosing Joy for Lent”. I still have copies of it that I share with folks who resist Lenten Practices, thinking that they are morose or burdensome. It parallels what you say about seeking beauty.

    May Lent be a deep, wonder-filled and awe-some blessing for us all… and may we all come to the Cross and into Resurrection life as manifestations of God’s New Creation!

    ptc

    • 15February2012 10:19

      That’s great, Pamela! I do appreciate the contemplative nature of Lent. I, most days, love the extra worship services, and I am grateful for the intentionality of focused discipline. But I’m excited for focused beauty this year.

      To further the conversation, I created a facebook group for folks at the church I serve. We will be using it as a vehicle to post pictures, thoughts, and experiences of beauty and connecting it to God’s Word–Beauty together.
      May your Lent be beautiful!
      SMN

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