Sometimes Lent and its disciplines remind me of a little kid, staying after school, resignedly writing line upon line of shaky cursive on a classroom blackboard: "I will not run with scissors...I will not run with scissors...I will not run with scissors..." (Or insert your favorite infraction.)
That is, I think, what I and maybe others tend to turn Lent into -- a kind of half-hearted, doomed-to-fail exercise in trying to cross out line items in our personal lists of breadcrumb sins: We don't pray enough. We eat too much. We get too angry too often.
My pastor said something in his sermon last night that gave me an "aha" moment. He said that maybe the metanoia, the turning, we need to make isn't about chump-change stuff like this...but rather a turning away from the practical atheism that runs the world and, too often, our own lives; the delusion that the cosmos is no bigger than the circumference of our own comfort and happiness, our own success, our own cleverness or effort, our own perception of reality.
Instead of remaining inward-turned, like a dark star imploding on itself -- metanoia is a turning outward, to God and to one another, so that in the words of the old Shaker song we "turn around right."
Artwork: "Blue" by Catherine Jo Morgan