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In HOPE - Faculty Publications

  In HOPE 8.4 

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David Timms  

A Lenten Story

One married couple has decided that this Lent, instead of giving up the usual food or drink items, they would give up some sleep and television. They have committed to giving the first and last 30 minutes of each day to the Lord together. What a great idea! In fact, by bookending their sleep in such a way they might find that the Lord meets them in their sleep in new and refreshing ways.


Orbis Books has published a wonderful volume for Lent, titled Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (2007; 404 pages). The book provides a reading per day throughout the 46 days of Lent by authors like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Philip Yancey, Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Barbara Brown Taylor, and many others. The selections are hard-hitting and beautifully written. Since we are already a week into Lent, you might have some catch-up to do but it would be worth the effort. The book includes readings for an additional 26 days beyond Lent/Easter.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831


How did we come to know that we were dying a slow and unacknowledged death? And that the only way back to life was to set all our packages down and begin again, carrying with us only what we really needed?
-- Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

Spring Clean

Most of us have lives as cluttered and unkempt as the garage or attic. Stuff everywhere. Dust bunnies. Spider webs. We don't remember what we have, so we keep buying more. Unsorted piles of this, that, and just about everything. Yes, the garage (or workshop) provides a painful metaphor.


Every now and then we have a spring clean. Out comes the dustpan and broom-perhaps, on inspired occasions, the vacuum cleaner. We may even wipe off the scummy film that builds up on the windows; then marvel at the fresh view.


But with time and neglect, the natural order returns, which is to say no order at all.


Lent (which means "Spring") is spring cleaning for the soul. It's a time for us to sort, sift, clean, and toss. It's an opportunity for us to admit that it is not well with our souls-at least not as well as we'd like. It's a season for simplifying.


Most of us have little concept of moderation. We over-work, over-eat, over-commit, and over-spend. We insist that this is just modern life, hoping that our souls will one day agree and be at peace. We can't imagine coping or surviving without cable, computers, and cell-phones. We keep buying toys, gadgets, and "sales," hoping for distraction or happiness. We tell ourselves that "upgrades" will improve our lives. They don't.


We may have fleeting moments when this tail-chase strikes us as futile; usually prompted by exhaustion, sickness, or conflict. And we resolve that this madness must stop, which it does until we feel better. How ironic that "feeling better" usually catapults us back onto the same path of self-destruction, the "slow and unacknowledged death."


Lent provides a regular, 46-day schedule each year, to attend to the heart. It's long. Could we not just have a "spiritual spring clean weekend"? There's too much going on over a month and a half to keep focused on Lent. Ideally, we could squeeze it in between other demands.  But our spiritual clutter and junk has usually spilled from the garage into the house, and in short bursts all we can do is dust and re-arrange. Lent is for methodically bagging stuff and tossing it in the trash-the broken, unsafe, and unused.


Fasting throughout Lent serves multiple purposes. The discipline creates a space for us to be attentive to God. It confronts our never-say-no-to-ourselves lives. And it challenges us to re-assess and re-order our spiritual priorities.


I'm no peeping-tom, but I like to look in other people's windows, the windows to their souls. Regrettably, most windows are covered with dust and dirt, like my own. Perhaps this is a good time to break out the Windex and wash cloths, the gloves and the garbage bags. If we take it seriously (and prayerfully) the whole house may begin to shine a little more by Easter.






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I'm always happy to explore these issues further.

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You can find back issues of "In HOPE" (2005-2007) at http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/.

David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.