L is for . . .


  1. Lent: From the Latin lencten, meaning spring.
  2. Lent: a misspelling of what you realize has dropped out of your navel and is now piling up under the bed.
  3. Lent: a time of navel-gazing in anticipation of Easter.
  4. Sure, all of those.

At an Ash Wednesday service I once attended, the priest said he thought of Lent as “my Christmas.” I understand. We celebrate Christmas with Santa circling chimneys that are designed to filter particles (maybe including Santa) and listen to recorded carols while retailers trick and rarely treat us. We barely survive December each year.

Lent, an artificially created season to prepare for Easter, ranks high on my list of essential celebrations. And in preparing—waiting, reflecting, sacrificing—for Easter, I don’t want to rush ahead. As for me, I want the time to gaze at my “lenty” navel. And much more. I want the 40 days to remember all of what makes me “me,” and place before God my longing to grow closer to the Creator’s way of life.

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A is for…


My theological mentors are obvious. I write about them, even mention them in casual conversation. I’m transfixed by the likes of Walter Brueggemann, Frederick Buechner, and Barbara Brown Taylor. And I was privileged to attend a seminary—like other clergy—where “world class” professor/mentors shared insights.

But I think of all of them as amateurs when it comes to interpreting what the Bible may/could/might mean. Oh, I depend on them. My lively, trusted “mentors” probably read Greek or Hebrew better than I read English. They understand historical context when I’m mostly hysterical. Through study and practical experience they have explored the great faith traditions in ways I envy.

Still, if the Bible is a living word, where its stories invite more stories, and where its real and imagined people are similar enough to you and me, we’re all amateurs. No one is the expert. Everyone is still learning.

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