I am flunking Lent. Again.
It’s not the fault of my Lenten practice, which is a wonderful one. I am:
1) Reading serious non-fiction for two hours a day, and
2) Reading only those books I already own, and not buying new non-fiction.
The first two weeks began swimmingly, as Lenten practices often do. I read happily, even lustily. I tore through David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, posting little tidbits daily on Facebook to keep myself accountable and to entertain my friends with all the “Gee whiz!” stuff I was learning.
I then devoured Alan Jacobs’s outstanding ode to reading, which seemed an appropriate affirmation of my Lenten practice, and Eugene Peterson’s rumination on Ephesians. It was during the Peterson book that I could feel myself slowing down, and for all sorts of reasons: I got busy. The book was challenging. It was surely one I should savor more slowly.
And . . . I was getting a little tired of Lent.
This tends to happen to me with a depressingly annual regularity. Lent always feels about a week too long. In fact, so firm is my subconscious conviction about the ideal length of Lent that it seems I have now blundered with the Lenten devotional I recently compiled of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings on Lent and Easter.
It’s a good book except for one problem. I left out a week. An entire week.
A customer who was reading ahead informed the publisher last week that there seemed to be a week’s worth of devotions missing, because there are actually seven Sundays in Lent and not six as I thought. So I have been scrambling to fix the problem with these online devotions that will be added to the print book in time for Lent next year.
It’s an enormous embarrassment and an unnecessary expense for the press. I feel like an eejit.
But it’s more than just a dumbass professional mistake. It’s symbolic of something larger that’s amiss with my spiritual life, which is a restlessness and impatience that I can’t seem to shake. Easter can’t come soon enough for me. I’m a baby Christian who doesn’t want to keep wandering in the wilderness with Jesus for 40 days. Actually, make that more like 46 days, because did I mention there’s one more week of Lent than feels proper?
But Lenten disciplines do help with the restless heart. As Augustine put it, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. So I am back to the books, reading Team of Rivals.
And as Anne of Green Gables used to say, today is a brand-new day, with no mistakes in it.
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