by Dale Jones
I have been hoping no one other than me noticed my blog post was missing last week. If so, perhaps I should not have called attention to my omission. On the other hand, an old adage proclaims “confession is good for the soul,” and this soul has a lot to ‘fess up to. For starters, any semblance of my Lenten practice has largely evaporated in the last couple weeks.
If I was flunking Lent 101 before, now I was not even showing up for class.
As my schedule deteriorated from somewhat crazy to nearly insane, I failed at every attempt to write last week’s blog. First of all, with my Lenten practice supplanted by working most of my waking hours, there was little inspiring to blog about. Probably there is a spiritual dimension to short-notice trips to meet with a troubled client and the attendant preparations, but I was too absorbed in responding to these unusual, pressing needs to find the Holy. Secondly, each time I made an effort to write the blog entry – usually well past any reasonable bedtime – I fell asleep at my keyboard, awaking after some minutes to find I had typed many pages of the letter “k.” (Not a very meaningful blog entry.) After a few nights of these fruitless efforts, I decided to invoke the grace I hoped was present in a pre-Lent message to bloggers from the Communications Committee: “Your thoughts and views are what is important to us–not making sure that you keep to a strict schedule.” I conceded that blogging was just not going to happen.
Sleep-deprived and somewhat mentally spent, I decided not to cancel a weekend getaway planned weeks ago during an airfare sale. Away from the office and (most of) its unmet deadlines and impending meeting preparations, my Lenten discipline flickered back to life temporarily. I returned to Lexington, Kentucky, a former home for several years, to visit a college-student son and worship with the congregation that was my church family during those years.
Here I did find the Holy.
While many names and faces have changed since I moved from there, St Luke UMC in Lexington remains a vibrant, growing congregation, almost as exciting as Holy Covenant – and that is saying a lot! Pastor Debbie Wallace-Padgett preached poignantly about roll-coasters: her way of illustrating the ups and downs of the Israelites’ relationship with God.
“Yep,” I thought, “my walk with God is roller-coaster-ish right now.”
As my son and I trekked through Raven Run Nature Preserve down to the Kentucky River overlook, then huffed and puffed our way back up the hill, the occasional emanation of wildflowers whispered words of re-creation. This woodland trail felt like it could be the road to Jerusalem. I spent a few hours with cherished friends from St Luke church. One of my friends, at the age where he might have disengaged from church life to focus on his granddaughters and his Social Security checks, was instead pursuing licensing as a local pastor. Bob had always been effective at encouraging and leading others to deeper faith, but his new engagement in disciple-making reminded me it is never too late to begin the journey with Jesus toward Jerusalem.
Returning Monday to the Real World, my weekend Lenten revival succumbed quickly to too many tasks and too little time. There is now no doubt I must repeat Lent 101 next year. In these weeks I have been mostly flailing through the jungle rather than resolutely walking the road toward the Cross.
But from my brief times on that Road, it is clearly the “more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).