Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Back to Normal?

I'll confess that I cringe when I hear things like, "Geez, I can't wait until Lent is over! I want things to get back to normal."

The reason I cringe is simple: if your life goes back to normal after Lent, if after weeks of prayer and liturgical movement toward the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ you have not been in the slightest way affected, then you've missed the whole point of Lent. If you have seen Lent as a period of 40-some odd days when you "Don't do this" or "Do this every day" as though it's some Iron Man competition for the soul, then you've failed to be grasped by its importance.

Lent is not a time for doing. Surely, there are elements of that present. It is a time of being: being present with Christ as he ministers and as he faces opposition, present as he is betrayed, present as he is abandoned, present as he breaks into our lives on Easter Sunday. Lent is a time for falling more deeply in love, a time for reflecting on how we've lived as disciples and the ways in which we are called to follow more nearly, see more clearly, and love more dearly. If Easter is an axis that turns you back into the humdrum of your daily life without any mark, wholly unscathed, then did you really give yourself over to the experience?

We so often hear people say things such as "this book/person/poem/song/trip/etc. changed my life". How has Lent, then, impacted us? Has it been a mild inconvenience or a challenge? Has it been a season in which we encounter Christ anew and commit ourselves again as disciples? Has our prayer been touched or our hearts moved in some way?

Don't get me wrong - I'm no mystic and I certainly don't end this Lent with a profoundly altered view of the world. But I know that my commitment to prayer and to getting to know the Lord again in this season has marked me forever. It is a "new normal" that I enter - a "new normal" marked by a desire to serve as a disciple, a desire to respond even though I know I will fail at times, a desire to walk more as a Companion of Jesus.

What is your new normal? It's not too late, it's never too late, to have that encounter that shakes your heart! To fall in love with Christ daily, but most especially in this season, is a tremendous grace. A grace lived out in the shadow of the cross. A grace accepted with trembling hands. A grace of a "new normal" in which we hear Christ say to us "I do not call you servants, I call you friends."

As we enter into Holy Thursday, my prayer is that any who read this blog will find but a few minutes to reflect on their lives with Christ. Allow the heartrending sorrow and triumphant joy of this season penetrate your heart deeply. Allow the experience of falling in love to break you out of the daily hell of "normal" and draw you into the ongoing adventure of committed discipleship, the "new normal" that awaits all those who answer their call to 'come and see.'


Kat said...

I didn't like normal before this year soo... I hope it never goes back to "normal".

Judy Vaughan-Sterling said...

Hi Ryan,

I love Lent. For me it's a season of study and introspection. I never live up to my hopes for conversion of life during Lent, but I keep trying every year. After Easter, we enter the "long green tunnel" until Advent -- not very satisfying at all. Guess I'm just one of those Lent people.

Have a blessed Easter!


Kristie G. said...

Hello Ryan it is Kristie from JCU and N. Olmsted. How are you? I hope you have a Happy Easter. I would love to hear from you.

Unknown said...


Send me an email with your # and I'll give you a ring!! The last time I was in Cleveland I tried to find your number but was not successful.

Happy Easter!


Anonymous said...

The misinterpretation of Lent is in no small measure due to past teaching which saw it as a period of deprivation rather than enrichment. Like Judith I try to use Lent constructively but never quite manage it. Next year I'll try groups again - a good group, I have found in the past, provides rich support. Maybe a cyber-group could do it in some measure?

Tom (UK)

Kristie G. said...


Not sure what your email is.


Unknown said...