One of the objectives of Lent is self-denial, or “asceticism”: temporary abstinence from worldly pleasures, in preparation for the feast of Easter. From that perspective, I have a confession to make. I am a poor Lent-observer. These days, I still enjoy watching as many sports games as I can, I still go out for dinner with my husband and friends on a regular basis, and discover the many places that I haven’t seen yet in the States. I also refused to skip celebrating my birthday on March 3rd, just two days after Ash Wednesday. So, I am not the best example of Lent abstinence for you, my Emmanuel friends. Well, on second thought, I stopped drinking coffee! That’s one thing at least. But, honestly, that was not Lent-inspired.
In this more solemn period of the religious year, I started thinking about the kind of ‘spiritual awakening’ I have been experiencing recently. Having cut myself loose from the religious roots from my youth years ago, there always remained within me a belief in the influence of a ‘higher being’ in my life, that was guiding me and the world around me. For years, I did not translate that into going to church or doing prayer. My faith was still somewhere, but I simply did not materialize it. Maybe, the rapid secularization of my home country, the Netherlands, was not helpful either... However, since joining Emmanuel Episcopal Church, and experiencing its traditions, its rituals and its hospitality, I have been feeling a change. It gives an extra meaning to my life to be part of a great, inspiring faith community, to take time for the occasional prayer, confess my sins to God and be energized by my faith in God again. I feel confident, re-inspired and reassured that for me and my loved ones, God is watching over us, as it is said in Isaiah 43:2.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
That’s a great thought on our way to Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, our example of love, belief and hope.