This coming Sunday, the 4th Sunday in Lent, is sometimes referred to as Refreshment Sunday. It’s the halftime of Lent, the midpoint, and suddenly we are closer to Easter than Ash Wednesday. For some who have added to their spiritual discipline during Lent this midpoint can serve as a time of encouragement. Knowing that we have completed more than half of a task can help energize us for the finishing of the task. If we have made it this far, we can make it the rest of the way.
Of course, some of us have taken on disciplines and have failed. Maybe we have not been able to keep up what we hoped to do, or not do. Maybe we’ve had to readjust our discipline, or maybe we’ve even seen that what we had planned for Lent just isn’t going to be possible for us this year.
At the end of every experience there is the opportunity for reflection. Experience, it has been said, is the best teacher, but it’s not much of a teacher unless we reflect on our experience. As we finish things we can look back and evaluate our performance, process what we have learned, and step forward into the next experience.
Fortunately, most of our experiences also provide opportunities within them for such reflection and examination. Most athletic events have halftimes or times between plays where the participants meet with their coaches and can make adjustments. One of my coaches growing up used to say, “Always change a losing game.” But that takes perspective. It takes effort. And it usually takes a lot of help.
As one of your coaches in spiritual matters, I do ask you to pause and reflect on your Lenten practices. Be encouraged if you have lost heart. If you have fallen, get up and return to the practice. Stretch yourself. Engage the season of preparation anew. Rest and be refreshed for the next half. To be replenished is to pause, take stock, and begin again.
And it is not too early to begin asking what it is that you are learning this Lent. What are you learning about yourself? And what are you learning about God in your life? Lent, after all, is not just a time to see what we can do or not do. It is a time to entertain our limits so that we can know God’s limitlessness. We do not seek to prove something to God. We seek to make sacrifices so as to serve our Lord and our Lord’s children.
Be aware of your life this day, this season. Pause and reflect. Pay attention. Open your heart and ask the Lord to come in anew. It is he who sustains you and leads you. In Lent we examine not our own ways alone but God’s ways. Perhaps you need to make some halftime adjustments. Be reminded of the joyful goal of the endeavor: to know God’s love for us.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.