shutterstock_76742308I am flunking Lent. Again.

It’s not the fault of my Lenten practice, which is a wonderful one. I am:

1)   Reading serious non-fiction for two hours a day, and

2)   Reading only those books I already own, and not buying new non-fiction.

The first two weeks began swimmingly, as Lenten practices often do. I read happily, even lustily. I tore through David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, posting little tidbits daily on Facebook to keep myself accountable and to entertain my friends with all the “Gee whiz!” stuff I was learning.

I then devoured Alan Jacobs’s outstanding ode to reading, which seemed an appropriate affirmation of my Lenten practice, and Eugene Peterson’s rumination on Ephesians. It was during the Peterson book that I could feel myself slowing down, and for all sorts of reasons: I got busy. The book was challenging. It was surely one I should savor more slowly.

And . . . I was getting a little tired of Lent.

This tends to happen to me with a depressingly annual regularity. Lent always feels about a week too long. In fact, so firm is my subconscious conviction about the ideal length of Lent that it seems I have now blundered with the Lenten devotional I recently compiled of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings on Lent and Easter.

It’s a good book except for one problem. I left out a week. An entire week.

A customer who was reading ahead informed the publisher last week that there seemed to be a week’s worth of devotions missing, because there are actually seven Sundays in Lent and not six as I thought. So I have been scrambling to fix the problem with these online devotions that will be added to the print book in time for Lent next year.

It’s an enormous embarrassment and an unnecessary expense for the press. I feel like an eejit.

But it’s more than just a dumbass professional mistake. It’s symbolic of something larger that’s amiss with my spiritual life, which is a restlessness and impatience that I can’t seem to shake. Easter can’t come soon enough for me. I’m a baby Christian who doesn’t want to keep wandering in the wilderness with Jesus for 40 days. Actually, make that more like 46 days, because did I mention there’s one more week of Lent than feels proper?

But Lenten disciplines do help with the restless heart. As Augustine put it, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. So I am back to the books, reading Team of Rivals.

And as Anne of Green Gables used to say, today is a brand-new day, with no mistakes in it.

Yet.

 

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11 Comments

  1. I didn’t create any Lenten resolutions because my second New Year’s resolution is “no new goals”. So I managed to keep that resolution by not giving up anything or taking on a new task specifically for Lent. but I’m actually failing at that goal because new things keep cropping up and I’m terrible at saying no and pacing myself.

  2. Vickie Suitor

    First I want to thank you for the wonderful clergy day you did in WNY. I enjoyed it very much. I’m leading a small group at my parish and we are all enjoying your book “Flunking Sainthood” and the wonderful conversation it’s generating. At last night’s session we looked at Benedictine hospitality and learned that a woman in our group has mastered this. She welcomes folks into her home at a moments notice and makes them feel like it was planned for weeks.
    I also want to thank you for the collection of Bonhoeffer’s reflections in “God is on the Cross” which I chose for my Lenten reflections. I picked it up before the Diocese suggested the other book as a Lenten study and I didn’t realize the connection at first.
    I’m enjoying it a lot and was thrilled to find the missing pages were available. I sat down last night to read Sunday and Monday and couldn’t find them. I thought I was just tired and reading it wrong so I put it down till this morning. That’s when I realized the pages were actually missing. So I looked you up, read your blog and found the missing pages. Thank you so much, I can now get back to my Lenten practice.
    And again both books are wonderful and have strengthened my spirit this Lent. Thanks!

  3. Jana Riess

    Vickie, thanks for that encouragement. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at your diocese and thank you for the Benedictine-like hospitality I enjoyed there. And I’m glad you are enjoying the Bonhoeffer devotional, despite my mistakes.

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