Around this time a few years ago I was trudging through winter weather to get to a rehearsal on a weeknight and I thought to myself “It’s amazing that we ask the same things of ourselves during cold New England winters as we do during the summers.”
There is a reason some animals hibernate. The winter takes a lot out of you.
A few weeks ago I had “February vacation”, a week of break after President’s Day which I have always enjoyed in New England. I caught up on writing projects, submitting an article and book proposal. I did ALL of the reading for a course I am taking online, not only as much as I thought I could get away with. I made some recordings. And when I got sick midweek, I spent long days at home, sitting by a sunny window, reading when I could, resting when I couldn’t.
As we embark on another Lent, that is what is on my mind. Though I have always taken Lent seriously, I try not to see it as a test of endurance. I listen to my body and my heart when it feels like the sacrifices we don’t choose are enough. I take on sacrifices in order to make space. This year, fatigued with the winter and all of the tasks of life, I value this space more than ever.
This year (and I think of my year as September – September, bound as I am, joyfully, to the academic year), I have had a few things that have taken up a lot of space in my head. I launched a huge website redesign for a non-profit. We moved. I could go on and list a hundred other tasks I have taken on, but that would feed in to the obsession with “more”, when I want to focus on “less”.
This Lent, I hope to read fewer “hot takes” and more books. I hope to take long walks to think and pray. I hope to ignore my phone and sit at the piano for hours. I hope to write fewer tweets and more long passages of prayer (and perhaps even write things that are just between me and God). I hope to give my attention to the few people who I am closest to, who rely on me, rather than hoping to impress the masses. I hope to sit in front of a blank page, with no pressure to fill it. I hope that my restrictions of food and drink free up more time and space in my life to meditate and find freedom.
I hope to make space, and to see how God comes creeping in.