Beliefnet
Feiler Faster

A blogger reflects.

I have to admit I’ve never really LIKED this particular season, Lent. It has always seemed so gloomy. I don’t like morose approaches to faith and life in general. One of my colleagues said to me light-heartedly today, “To dust I shall return? No way. I’m going to have myself cryogenically frozen!”
I don’t think Jesus spent his 40 days in the desert beating himself up over past mistakes or nurturing in himself a sense of unworthiness, shame, or fear. I don’t think this is what he was about or what Lent is meant to be, but in the past the season has often been described to me as a time to reflect on sinfulness and the need for repentance. I think of it as spiritual work-out time – like the sometimes hard and painful but ultimately health-building, strengthening, wonderful exercises dancers do at the ballet barre. I have found that retreats – stepping back from material cares and mundane concerns into silence and sacred space – can make that spiritual work really fruitful, but silence and sacred space are really hard to come by these days, making the demarcation of sacred time even more valuable.
I think Jesus spent his time in the desert in deep connection with Spirit and world. I appreciate what Bruce Feiler said in his program Walking the Bible, during which he visited the awe-inspiring Sinai Desert: “In the desert you are between being in extreme places, having extreme emotions, and opening yourself up to spiritual ideas that never existed before. That’s why the desert is such a powerful place. You’re pushed to the limits of your capacity and you crave nonhuman, nonrational support — that is, God…That’s what Jews, Christians and Muslims all have in common: a single man goes out into the desert and has a transforming experience.”

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