Lenten House Cleaning

Words by Aaron Austin

I didn't grow up observing Lent, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate this season more. For brooding, artsy-fartsy types like me, it fits. It’s nice to have a time of year when I can be “contemplative” rather than just plain moody.

I used to see Lent as constriction—a shoring up of our moralities and behavior. But more and more, I see Lent as a widening. It’s about exploring our interior landscapes, not navel-gazing. It’s about making room, not austerity. It’s about release, not constriction. It’s about reconnecting with the Source of life, not about disconnecting from all enjoyment.

I still have this tendency to think that God wants some proof of my allegiance—that somehow God is not satisfied with me as I am. And so I can tend to turn Lent into another way that I have to prove myself to be worthy of Grace, to be worth saving. But that is not the purpose of this season. God is not looking for proof of our worthiness. God is not keeping notes on if we prayed enough or if we used our “driving words” on the way home from work.

God is whispering to us, calling us out into the wide open spaces, leading us into fields of grace, pointing us to where the waving wheat of gratitude sways, inviting us to find the streams of fresh clear water that spring up in the most unexpected places.

Who knows what goodness may be born in our hearts when we make room for love to flower there, when we make room for life to grow and thrive? Who knows? There may be less room for some things, but I don’t think we’ll miss them.