I think I’m sad that Lent is over. Many of us look to Lent as an opportunity to prepare for Easter and the glory of that amazing day. But every year, I wonder how I will spend the time as we move toward the high holy day of our religious year. What will I do to spend the time in a valuable way? How will I look forward to the time and then practice it for the next 40 days? But this year was different and I enjoyed my Lenten journey in a way that surprised me and deepened its meaning for me. Here’s what I did….
I work in crazy-busy Manhattan and decided I would find a place – a quiet place where I would do my Bible study. It couldn’t be in my office, during lunch– I didn’t want to be tempted by the noise on the other side of the door. I wanted to find a unique, intimate place. And I did!
Jammed between the restaurants and pubs of the New York City streets, and about the length of one city block stands an Episcopal church that has proven to be a true “Lenten Experience” for me. And granted, a church sounds like a perfect place for Lenten study, but it held lessons for me that I hadn’t counted on.
The church is dim and cozy, with the heavy scent of frankincense in the air. There are nooks and crannies and small places to be still. But it’s not very still there. It’s actually a hub….it’s like an air traffic control station for the faithful!
There’s the man that is lying facedown at the altar every day. What a testament to his love and adoration for the Lord…every day…down on the cold floor, kissing the ground. Then there’s the woman who lights about 50 candles at the foot of the crucifix – patiently and carefully she lights every candle….she touches Jesus’s feet and hurries along.
And, there are the other congregants too….the face of the world, right there in the sanctuary. Every homeless person without a place to stay or sleep is welcomed in….and they each have their own pew. Granted, this winter has been a cold one, and anyone on the streets would need an escape from the cold. But there they are – committed, together – and in their way quiet way, respecting the sanctity of the space and worshipping.
And then there’s me. Reading my Bible passage for the day and contemplating, praying, thinking – and watching all the wonder around me, realizing that the Lenten gift is what’s happening all around me – that the best worship is what God has allowed me to be a part of here in the sacred space. What an amazing Lenten gift – to watch the faith in action – imagining that all is acceptable and worthy -all worshipping in our own ways. Looking for relationship, looking for God.
I pray that your Lenten journey has been a meaningful one for you. And if you’re thinking that you would just like it to keep going – let it be so! Let the Lenten journey continue!
Lynn Costa is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, NY. She’s a Ruling Elder, a Co-Superintendent of the Sunday School, a SS Teacher and Chair of the Personnel Committee.