“It occurred to me that perhaps what God calls us to give up, really, is ourselves.”
Kris Cameally, Introduction to Holey, Wholly, Holy
It’s 7:10 on Tuesday night. It’s been a busy few days and the next two weeks are no less chaotic. We’ve eaten dinner and done the dishes. I’m sitting in my favorite corner of the couch in my favorite yoga pants and one of my husband’s fleece pullovers. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. I’m 41 and for most of my life that was just a little notation on the calendar. But for the past several years, I’ve spent more and more time exploring Lenten practices.
My Southern Baptist lineage prepared me in no way for the 40-day fasting from chocolate or coffee or my favorite television show. I started with a Lenten fast simply out of curiosity. The next year it seemed natural to do it once again. For five years the giving up was on the outside. It was an act of will. Yes, I prayed and contemplated before choosing from what I would fast, but that was about it. Two years ago something changed. I found a Lenten devotional for my Kindle. Nine days into the readings, there was this:
A great Lenten question: will we allow Jesus to come into our souls and dine with us?
I wrote the question into my journal, “Will I allow Jesus to come into my soul and dine with me?” Suddenly, Lent made sense. Lent wasn’t about what I was doing but what I was seeking. You see, those first few years my motivation was outward … the discipline was the focus. But that day, March 17, 2011, was different. My motivation moved from outward to inward. My desire wasn’t so much to experience the discipline of practicing Lent but rather to devote myself to communion with Christ.
Each day as I read the prescribed passages of Scripture and contemplated the journey of Christ from the manger to the Cross, I was changed. My devotion to Scripture was deepened. As Holy Week approached I was captivated by the sights and sounds recorded in Scripture. By Good Friday, I was struck by the depth of God’s love in a whole new way. We had a Good Friday service at our church that evening. The service ended abruptly. There was no benediction or prayer … just the sudden silence. We sat there, a congregation of Baptists used to singing a verse of “Amazing Grace” at the end of any Lord’s Supper service. We were awkward and uncomfortable. We fidgeted in our seats and we nervously looked around, waiting for one of the pastors to give us a hint about what we were supposed to do.
Isn’t that how Good Friday ought to feel? Isn’t that where the Lenten journey should lead us … uncertain, uncomfortable? I think we like everything about our faith journey to end neatly and fit into a nicely wrapped box. We want to understand and catalog. But Lent isn’t like that. It’s awkward and hard. Lent presses in on us in ways we never really expect.
My friend Kris has written a beautiful book about all of this. Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement is an invitation to travel the uncomfortable terrain of Lent. Kris shares her own awkward and stumbling journey. As you read this book, slowly and carefully, the journey becomes your own.
I love this book. Whether you have “done Lent” your whole lives or you really know nothing about it, Holey, Wholly, Holy
is for you.
Available for Kindle and in print, Holey, Wholly, Holy is for all of us.
How has practicing Lent changed you?
affiliate links included in this post
i was provided a copy of this book for review. the opinions are all mine.