The Advent of Lent

In the beginning, there was prayer.

Well, that's not entirely true. In the beginning, there was prayer. But there was also procrastination. And avoidance. Hiding. Excuses.

As a result, the beginning never ended. It had no middle, no growth. My New Year commitment to regular prayer expired after a week and a half. My last post is dated in November '06.

This Lent, I intend to change this. This Lent, I am giving up excuses. No more claiming there is no time in the day for prayer. No more protests about tiredness. No more indulging in laziness, or worse, apathy.

After a year of thinking about it, I'm going to do it. This Lent, I will write 40 prayers in 40 days, all based on the young adult experience of God and faith.

If the resolution and sacrifice succeed, I will continue past 40 days. But for now, one liturgical season at a time will do. Can't turn a sinner into a saint in one afternoon, and can't turn a stubborn girl into a blogger any quicker.

So in the beginning, there is prayer. And here it is.

Prayer #0: Give up chocolate? Or your self?

No merciful God ever asks you to give up chocolate.

Cursing, yes. Pornography, yes. Lying and cheating and stealing, yes. But not chocolate. Oh no. God is too generous, too kind, too loving for that.

So what can I do this Lent to return such magnanimity? Surely not give up chocolate. It must be something bigger, better, more important. It must be something I've come to rely on, something I use as a crutch, something that prevents me from being my full self.

I know. I'll give up excuses. You know, those oh-so-reasonable reasons I concoct to avoid writing at home. To not bother blogging in my spare time. To pass on that book and watch TV. To skip out on my journal. To put off calling an old friend. To hide my face in the pillow at night without saying a prayer.

Lord, I give you all my excuses. I give you my rationalizations. I give you my arguments. They are all weak and empty, and they're making me weak and empty, too.

I lay them at the foot of your cross this Lent -- your cross, Jesus, where you did not equivocate or waffle, you simply did. You didn't say, "Oh come on, I did good for the past 33 years. Cut me some slack. I deserve some time off, as in, off this cross entirely. Let me have a long nap, a glass of wine, and we can forget the whole thing. What do you say?"

Instead, you said, "I'm ready. The time is now. Bring it on." And you opened your arms, and embraced every excuse-addled mistake of every sin-riddled person for the next infinity or so.

In that moment, you became exactly who you were destined to be. By shedding my excuses, and baring myself to the truth, I hope to achieve the same.

It will not happen in 40 days. Maybe not even in 40 years. But that's no excuse not to try. Remember? I'm giving up excuses. That's my small Lenten sacrifice in honor of your great one.

Let the writing -- and the healing -- begin.

In your name, now and always -- Amen.