Life in the Wilderness Doesn't Come with an Itinerary

Sometimes it amazes me that we have the temerity come up with our own Lenten disciplines.  As if we can decide in advance of the season what it is we need to work on.

Don't get me wrong.  I think we should do that.  Many of us do that.  I'm all for it.

But more than once has God sent me another assignment in the middle of Lent.  Apparently my ideas could use some improvement.  Perhaps this is just me.  But as I ponder the story for Lent IV next Sunday - Jesus heals the man born blind - I am thinking that developing the eyes to see what actually needs attention is what Lenten discipline is all about to begin with.

Ironically, this means that my prayer life has changed.  The Daily Office is still there in some form or another - priests vow at their ordinations to pray the offices - but now my prayers have evolved and are more along the lines of what Anne Lamott says are her two best prayers:  "Thank you, thank you, thank you" and "Help me, help me, help me."  I think this is probably an improvement, to stop making even mental lists of things to pray about and just throw myself on God's mercy.  To stop trying to influence God to make things go the way I think they should go.  "Thy will be done" is what we say but we don't always mean it.

This is life in the wilderness, I guess - it's not a planned-ahead tour with detailed itinerary.  But there are signposts, pointing me toward some things I know I need: giving myself over to God and letting go of my tendencies toward self sufficiency; humility; being present to others; reopening my eyes to wonder; rekindling my curiosity.

Lent is only halfway through and I've got plenty of work still to do. I won't be finished by the time Lent is over, either.  I am glad for it; Easter will be all the more mysterious because of this time.  While we were yet sinners....