Spiritual booksLent as a church season

In most Christian churches throughout the world, today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 weekdays, observed by believers as a penitential and devotional preparation for Holy Week and Easter Sunday’s remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also a liturgical commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before starting his public ministry.

Lent as a personal pilgrimage

Growing up in the Episcopal Church, during Lent we usually gave up something we enjoyed (e.g., chocolate or dessert). In recent years, I prefer to use the time to take on a new discipline: a book study, additional prayer time, a retreat. This year, I will keep a prayer journal so I can be more intentional about my connection and conversation with God.

Lent has long moved me. I find my sensitivity to Spirit quickens at this time, primarily, I’m sure, because I make the space for it. I write very little poetry, but in 2003, Lent inspired me to write Lent Calls, and I share it with you here. Below the poem is the beautiful illustrated rendition done by my friend Lynne Crumpacker. If there is sufficient interest, I will get it printed on quality paper, ready for framing. Please email me at e….@heartspoken.com if you want to be put on a no-obligation list to be notified when printing and pricing are decided.

Lent Calls

Lent calls to me again . . .
To do what?
Like Martha, I tend towards doing
Doing is something I understand
            Chairing a committee
            Taking food to the sick
            Reading the Bible
Lent calls to me again . . .
He wants more of me than I’ve ever given
            More than Lenten study
            More than giving up dessert
            More than extra church services
Lent calls to me again . . .
He wants more of me and I’m frightened
            Frightened of losing control
            Frightened of letting go
            Frightened of what He might ask me to do if I really listened
Lent calls to me again . . .
I feel a yearning, a tugging towards something more
            Whispers of a love unimaginable
            Glimpses of a relationship unshakable
            Tastes of a water so clear and sweet that my thirst is slaked forever
Lent calls to me again . . .
A step is all I can manage, Lord
            A hand extended
            A head bowed
            A conscious placing of myself on your Potter’s wheel
Lent calls to me again . . .
Help me with the hard part, Lord
            Help me surrender
            Help me abandon myself to you
            Help me reconcile myself to you
Lent calls to me again . . .
            Here I am, Lord    
                                                                                     Elizabeth Herbert Cottrell
                                                                                     © 2003
Lent Calls Poem with illustration and border

“LENT CALLS” by Elizabeth H. Cottrell, illustrated by Lynne Crumpacker

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