Busy-ness is running my life these days. I have a habit of getting over committed and not leaving much space for downtime and relaxing. I am constantly in motion and am a self proclaimed “Doer.” I feel like I’m talking to a therapist or introducing myself in a twelve step program. “Hi, I’m Lane, and I can’t sit still.” I’m sure some of you can relate.
And yet there is something inside of me that is calling me to silence and stillness. I am not very good at either of those things, but as we enter the Lenten season, the gentle whisper inviting me to silence and contemplation is becoming quite vocal. It’s like the New Orleans phrase that parade-goers yell during Mardi Gras, translated Fat Tuesday, which was one of my first complete sentences as a young child growing up in south Louisiana, “Throw me something, mister!” Something from deep within-dare I say God-is yelling for me to throw some time God’s way.
In my hometown of New Orleans, before the quiet of Lent is the commotion of Mardi Gras. With Super Tuesday primary elections falling on Mardi Gras this year, it certainly made for a hyper day for this New Orleanian living in Atlanta. One of my favorite annual traditions at Candler School of Theology is the Shrove Tuesday breakfast, which is how people outside of south Louisiana celebrate Mardi Gras, often with pancakes or other high fat, high sugar treats before giving up those delights during Lent. (According to Wikipedia, the word shrove is a past tense of the English verb “shrive,” which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by confessing and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving, or confessing, that Anglo-Saxon Christians were expected to do prior to receiving absolution immediately before Lent.) Each Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday, Candler’s faculty and staff flip pancakes for students and Candler community members as we gather for a warm breakfast, complete with tons of toppings like chocolate chips, whipped cream, and fruit. With the Primary excitement and stacks of pancakes, it was Super Fat Tuesday at Candler School of Theology!
If I was not paying attention this week, I could have missed the start of Lent all together. My mind was still racing from the excitement of Super Fat Tuesday, as I entered the quiet sanctuary at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, where I am doing Clinical Pastoral Education, for their Ash Wednesday service. My body still felt like it was in motion, though I was firmly planted in the pew. Yet even in my fluttering mind, my spirit was inviting me to slow down. Some of my best and most meaningful discernment has happened during Lent. It seems to be a church season that I can really relate to. Sure, I love Christmas and Easter, but Lent is when I draw nearer to God.
As the week comes to a close, I feel a strong tension between the commotion of Tuesday and the contemplation of Wednesday. For me, Lent is best practiced with a little bit of the momentum of Mardi Gras as well as the wilderness journey of Ash Wednesday. The Isaiah text we read for Ash Wednesday, Isaiah 58:1-12, calls us to feed the hungry, clothe the sick, and shelter the homeless. I do not believe that Lent is a time to only work on one’s own personal relationship with God, but to continue bringing healing and hope to this broken world. By continuing in our momentum of building up God’s kingdom, Isaiah concludes that, “Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in,” (Isaiah 58:12). While I will certainly work on practicing stillness and listening attentively to God’s call to throw God some of my time and focus, I am still called by Isaiah, and Christ, to rebuild, repair, and restore God’s good creation. I am committed to living in the tension between Super Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday as I wait attentively for the resurrection on Easter.
Candler is a wonderful place to dialog about the tensions of living out one’s faith, and we would love to be in dialog with you as you are discerning this Lenten season. For more information about Candler School of Theology, visit our website at www.candler.emory.edu, or email the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, you can call us at 404.727.6326, or learn more about the admissions process at Candler by clicking here. Look for my profile on Facebook (Candler Intern-Theology) and the Candler School of Theology Group at www.facebook.com.
This week’s blog photos are from the Shrove Tuesday Breakfast on February 5, 2008 at Candler School of Theology, Brooks Commons, by Lane Cotton Winn.