Four years ago, I chose a Lenten discipline of writing poetry. I’ve written poetry off and on throughout my life—I wrote my first poem in fourth grade and one of my poems graced our high school graduation invitation. I’ve shared some poems on this blog before, and on Instagram, and intend to share more during this Lenten season.
Why poetry? I am realizing that I use words so much in my work and my ministry (I’m leading another Lenten retreat day at St. Philip’s in the Hills Church on April 4, for example, that will include some of my newer Jesus through the Eyes of Others stories), but I seldom use words for myself anymore. I found myself feeling a longing to connect with God more personally through my words as this year’s Lenten discipline, in addition to my more communal and public opportunities.
Last Wednesday at church, we discussed the psalter and its role in our lives of worship and prayer. That reminded me of a season in my life (2016–2017) when I wrote poetic responses to many of the psalms (including the one in the image above). I’m pondering whether to return to that project as part of this year’s Lenten discipline….
At a more fundamental level, my Lenten intent is to foster my prayer life by taking it into poetry. A Lenten discipline is supposed to connect us more deeply with God. (I honestly don’t find that giving up chocolate helps me to connect with God, though I’ve tried that as well!)
These days, I pray mostly during my walks and during moments of rest between parts of my day. Praying through an intentional focus on words—of noticing and articulating my gratefulness and grief, my desires and delights—has the potential to bring me closer to God and an awareness of God’s continual presence in my life. It certainly seems similar to how the psalms have been used. They became a prayerful hymnal for the people of Israel and a source of hope and inspiration (and sometimes struggle) for countless generations of Christians.
Lent begins on Wednesday. How might you use this Lenten season to connect more deeply with God?