On a walk by the James River train tracks here in Richmond, VA, I was recently explaining to my sons Whit & Ash how you can hear a train coming by pressing your ears to the track. "Be quiet and get low," I showed them, "that's how you know it's coming." I watched their five and three-year-old bodies hold carefully still. A rare sight. But in that moment, there was something worth holding still for.
I think of the Lent season something like this. Lent is an annual opportunity to turn down the volume in life, get low, and listen for the coming rush and roar of the Easter resurrection. To know that God is God, you must sometimes be still.
Observing the season of Lent is actually a relatively new practice for me, it was not something that I grew up with. But I now see that without Lent, Easter passes without much fanfare. It can almost slip by. Observing Lent is, thus, a preparation for Easter.
That preparation is something I have come to love over time - even come to crave and need. Many things of great beauty come from a simplicity or a scarcity, and Lenten practices of restraint and paring back are no different. Their austere beauty sets up the glittering feast of Easter in a way that just fits.
This is why I think you and your friends should try The Common Rule practices for the season of Lent. It's a good time to pay attention to excesses, engage in restraint, and prepare the soul for the limit-shattering implications of the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
We find our freedom in the constraints of love. This is a central claim of the Gospel, and the core premise of The Common Rule habits.
For more on that and 5 Reasons to Practice the Common Rule for Lent, check out this post.
Justin Whitmel Earley