Pathways through Lent

Weekday reflections from St. John’s in the season of Lent.

Ash Wednesday: February 14, 2024

A wonderful word in Hebrew is the word teshuvah. It literally means “to return.” It has the connotation of “getting back on the path.”

We all know what it is like to get off the path that we have intended to walk. It is human nature. In our lives we have this experience over and over. Returning to the path is good for us and is often lifegiving. Getting back on the path can be more than fixing the direction we are taking and can even be about restoring the way we walk. Teshuvah!

I once heard of a person who struggled to meditate. In just one minute of sitting still and trying to focus on his breath and being awake in the present moment his mind wandered at least twenty times. He expressed his disappointment about this to his teacher; but the teacher said, “How wonderful! You had twenty opportunities to return.”

The common translation for teshuvah is the word “repentance,” which tends to be an unpopular word these days. But repentance is truly a good thing if we know the true meaning of it. We are entering the season of Lent, and some think of this as a time to suffer. But I think it is more fruitful to see it as a time in which to look at our lives more carefully, and to practice our faith more intentionally. It is a time to return to what will be a more lifegiving path for each of us. We turn away from the things that distract us or tempt us, and we instead turn toward the things that are above, the things that are of God.

An intentional practice in Lent is a beautiful way to make the most of this season—including reading these Pathways reflections! This Lent I encourage everyone to try choosing something to give up or take on. It doesn’t need to be heroic. In fact, it is usually best if it is not. Rather, it should be something you will think about every day, giving you the opportunity to disrupt your day and remember God as you choose to stay on the path. Doing this, you will experience the goodness of a change in your life, which will help you become ready for even bigger things, like the mysterious promise of the resurrection waiting ahead for us at Easter.

I welcome you to this holy Lenten time, and I hope that these reflections will help you along the way this year. And as we experience the journey Lent together, I pray we will experience the goodness of teshuvah.

Rob Fisher

Links to the appointed readings for today