This fall, I was fortunate to have time off to spend with my newborn daughter, Charlotte. She hadn’t quite figured out the concept of napping, so I would take her for long walks around town in hopes that she would doze off. As we walked one day, I was struck by the beauty around me: The sky was so blue; the leaves on the trees were so green. It was as if I was seeing these things for the first time.
Looking back, I recognize that the sky wasn’t any bluer that day nor were the leaves any greener. What had changed was me. I wasn’t in a rush to get somewhere. I wasn’t stressing about errands that I had to get done. And, I wasn’t thinking about a project at work. I had let everything go and was appreciating the moment.
So often in the past I gave something up for Lent—like ice cream or chocolate—because I was told that this “sacrifice” would bring me closer to God. I can’t say that I ever felt closer to God during those times, even when I managed to fulfill my Lenten sacrifice. Maybe that’s because my mind remained cluttered with the worries and stresses of the day. Maybe my mind was so focused on those things that I couldn’t truly reflect on my relationship with God.
This Lent, I’ve been trying to recapture the feeling I had during my long walks with Charlotte. I’ve been trying to give up the everyday stresses of life, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day, so that I can appreciate the beauty of the world around me and the love and friendship of those in my life. And, so that I can truly build a better relationship with God.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9-16, Luke 19:28-40, Luke 23:1-49