As we near the end of Lent, I’d like you to take a moment to reflect back upon the season through which we have just traveled. For those in my own church in particular, I’d like to ask you how you did with that 20/40 Challenge I issued at the beginning of Lent – you remember, the challenge of “giving up” 20 minutes a day to be spent in prayer, meditation, or other contemplative practice. If you're not someone who heard that challenge at the beginning of Lent, you can still read along and get the gist of things - for more details, you can view the original post on my church's website, along with a couple of great resources for contemplative practices.
If you were one of those who heard the initial challenge, did you accept it? If you didn’t, why not? If you did, what aspects were the most challenging? For me, on some days at least, it was too easy to rationalize away the setting aside of time (even just 20 minutes!). I’d tell myself that if I kept my mind quiet while I drove around to do a few errands, or as I cooked a meal, or whatever, then maybe that would count for today. Obviously, those compromises fall short of the ideal. However, there is an element of truth in them. I found that when I actually was dedicated to my contemplative practice, I was better able to face the various mundane aspects of my daily living with a more equanimous attitude, a more meditative spirit. When I really did the hard work of meditation, I began to see the beginnings of a glimmer of a glimpse of a transformation at work in me. Of course, when I blew off my practice, that faint flickering was often too easily blown out by circumstances around me.
Rather than discourage me, however, these observations make me want to do more, to keep working, to maintain my contemplative practices, to continue my spiritual journey in the spirit of Wesley’s notion of moving onward toward “perfection”. So for those of us who practice the Christian spiritual path, as we exit Lent and enter the celebration of Easter let’s take this opportunity to renew our covenant to be working together, striving onward toward spiritual maturity and enlightenment, and growing into the fullness of life and love.