Shaking off the dust
For Lara Cooper, Lent is a yearly opportunity to shake off the dust, re-calibrate her heart, centre her spirit and focus on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
I find it quite easy these days to become disillusioned by the world around me. Sometimes I get bogged down by things close to home; other times I'm at a loss to know how to respond to pictures and stories of suffering and injustice further afield. Immersed in the modern environment that is saturated like never before by media images of worldwide suffering, is it any wonder that my thoughts and heart are influenced this way? For what can I do to help? The need is enormous!
But I am not the saviour. In order to bring balance back to my inner world, I find I need some deliberate structures upon which to build my thinking, and to remind me of my place within this confusion.
Lent is not a practice that I grew up familiar with. Although the word was thrown around, in my church tradition Lent seemed to be something to do with being older and eating fish – neither of which seemed particularly attractive to me at the time. From the perspective of my youth, I supposed that willingly choosing to do anything that prohibits a certain food must be some super outdated ritual not worth the dust it was collecting. I confess, to me it can still seem that way sometimes.
But as I've learned more about Lent, I've come to appreciate what it is actually designed to achieve. It is one of those deliberate structures designed to help recalibrate the mind and centre the spirit. It is a yearly opportunity to rebuild my thinking, re-centre my life on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It helps me to enter into his way of seeing, living and valuing, and to remember that truly it is only he who knows the way. And what a strange way it is! Practicing Lent is to enter into his dying and rising, and remember what these actions mean for our human story and for me as I participate in that story. In so doing I choose to identify with Jesus, and with those who are close to his heart – those who are suffering the weight of injustice.
It is also to shake off some of the dust which has collected on me, to rest, and to know there is a higher purpose plotted through the most difficult of times, both in the past and the present, and to come refreshed to a place of service to this calling.
This year, I know I need to shake off some dust. The longer I live, the dustier I seem to get. Maybe that's why it is easier to appreciate the value of such rituals as one gets a little older. As for the ritual itself – I’m not sure it matters so much how I go about practicing Lent. I don't really think I'll stop eating meat. I've seen it become popular to give up coffee for Lent, but being the good coffee snob that I am, that might be a stretch!
The point is, I think, that I need this opportunity to spend time in prayer and contemplation on Jesus, because that is the stuff of life. As I look upon a suffering world and engage my own personal battles, my choices and responses can only be built upon the practices of peace and the understanding of God’s ultimate plan that is in my heart. If my heart is struggling with disillusionment and hopelessness then won't I too become consumed by it?
This Lent, I'll be shaking off the dust, re-calibrating my heart and centring my spirit on the One who knows the way.
Lara is a Queensland-based artist, illustrator and TEAR supporter. She is married to Brett and together they have three children. You can read her prayer and reflection as part of our 2018 Lent series here