Last Saturday, I led a virtual Lent retreat day online. As I was preparing for it, I found myself writing down a lot of questions. (Some of them formed the shape of the retreat.) I thought I would share the questions today and invite you to ponder more deeply how we can survive more weeks of a pandemic when we’ve already endured a year.
- What does it mean to retreat when pandemic has already forced us into more isolation than we want?
- What does it mean to journey into the Lenten wilderness if we feel we’ve already been living there?
- What if our Lenten wilderness isn’t just about isolation and testing, but also about refilling our internal spiritual wells?
- What if Lent is about an explicit intention to turn toward God?
- What if, rather than giving up something for Lent, we take on something?
- What if what we take on is an intentional deepening of our relationship with God?
- What if we take on a new spiritual practice for connecting with God during Lent, or make a recommitment to a practice that’s been a blessing for us in the past?
During the retreat, I led participants in a variety of such spiritual practices. We reflected on scripture (appropriately, the story from Luke about Jesus’ time in the wilderness and how it launched his ministry). We did a creative stream-of-consciousness practice called Morning Pages. I then expanded upon it with more spiritual writing practices, such as journaling. We also did the Examen together, followed by spiritual awareness practices involving contemplative photography and art.
Last week I reflected on Ash Wednesday and how the pandemic led me to contemplate ashes from a spiritual perspective. As you enter Lent (and pass the one-year mark of living in a pandemic), how is God inviting you to refill your well? What spiritual practice are you being invited to embrace in this season?