new life.

The question before me, now that I
am old, is not how to be dead,
which I know from enough practice,
but how to be alive, as these worn
hills still tell, and some paintings
of Paul Cezanne, and this mere
singing wren, who thinks he’s alive
forever, this instant, and may be.
–Wendell Berry, from “Sabbaths 2001”

In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves. –Frederick Buechner

With Lent approaching, I have been pondering the idea of new life in conjunction with the idea of being myself. The old life of being a family of two has passed away, and now I am learning who I am as a wife-and-mother, as a member of this new family of three. Who I am when I am out of work more than I am there because of a sick little one. Who I am when a healing (but still cranky) baby has pushed me to my limits. Who I am at my new job, as I make new friends. Who I am as I start to attend a new church service to accommodate Atticus’s nap.

We live a lot of lives here on this earth. We carry them with us, just as Madeleine L’Engle says: you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. During Lent, a time to turn away from distractions, I am hoping to focus on what this new life looks like.

Do you celebrate Lent? Are you giving anything up this year? Are you planning to focus on anything?

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