In many Christian traditions, today is Ash Wednesday, or the beginning of Lent, so today we would like to share with you Babbling Brook readers a special message from our Willow Brook chaplain, Adam Metz:
If you are like me, you didn’t grow up acknowledging Lent. I really didn’t know anything about it other than the fact that my friends made a big deal about not eating the pepperoni on our Friday pizzas at school. Well, that, and the fact that the Knights of Columbus in town would have killer fish fries on Fridays. Neither of those facts seemed to have much to do with Jesus, and our church didn’t pay much attention.
As I have gotten older, however, I have developed a deep respect for the church traditions of Ash Wednesday and Lent. I don’t know about you, but my life often seems to be on a merry-go-round that just spins round and round and round at a dizzying pace. I have three teenagers and our world is consumed with sporting events, picking colleges, school plays, cleaning up the house, learning to drive, making dinner, cleaning up dinner, buying groceries, commuting, staying on top our bills, mowing the grass and shoveling the snow, and even catching a date with my wife from time to time all on top of my work here at Willow Brook. It’s hard enough for us to have a date night, so spending any extra time actually reflecting on my life – particularly my relationship with God, my shortcomings and some not-so-great habits I may have slowly picked up, seems worthy, but just not realistic. I’ll get to it tomorrow or next week. I’ll think about life more deeply when I have more time when I get older. I don’t know about you, but the face looking back at me in the mirror just keeps getting older and I feel busier than I’ve ever been. I regularly spend time with people here at Willow Brook who are in the latter stages of their lives – and you know what every single one of them has told me? “It just goes by so fast!”
Lent is a time to step off the merry-go-round. Lent is a time to stop. Don’t let the day go by so fast. Don’t let too many moments pass without reflection or prayer. At least for a little while. For as much time as you can. Take a breath. Close your eyes. Do it now while you are reading this, if you need to. Center yourself. We are so good at numbing ourselves – it makes me think of that Linkin Park song. Turns out, the chorus of that song is a pretty good Lenten prayer (bet you didn’t see that coming!)
I would like to encourage each one you reading this to take this allotted time – the next six weeks – and make a deliberate effort to renew your spiritual walk. The word “spiritual” no doubt means lots of different things to you all, and that’s fine. Great even. We are all spiritual beings – we thrive most, when we are in tune with our spirituality. This time of the year is a wonderful time to give a little extra attention to that part of your life. The part that makes you feel most whole – complete – at peace – shalom. Maybe start a new habit. When you sit down to begin your day, sit in silence for five minutes. Imagine five minutes of peace and quiet! I know for some of you it is very hard, but you can do it! I promise you have five minutes to spare. Maybe just sit in your car for five minutes at the beginning or end of the day. Or find a short devotional to read to begin your day or listen to a moving piece of music (like Linkin Park!). Maybe commute during Lent without music or an audio book playing. Enjoy the silence of your commute. Make a point to meet someone new or get to know someone more deeply every single day for six weeks. Change your habits, eat lunch earlier or later. Be creative! There is no end to how these small things could bring a light to our world!
And of course, you can always fast from something. Give up social media for six weeks. No more caffeine. Give up sugar. Give up music or alcohol. What do you use to stay numb? This is the season to consider it and imagine a different life for yourself.
Blessings on you all!