I want to tell you what my car taught me about Lent.
Now I realize that statement may elicit several responses:
What kind of car is that?
My car is usually messy. My cup holders are full of trash and coffee stains. I have Chapel props and grocery bags and maps and binoculars and school directories and three umbrellas strewn about. The other day there was a strange noise, and I found, in a tiny compartment, something that I "bought" at KidTown from the kindergartners—from their music store. It was a plastic Easter egg that was decorated with paint and sequins and filled with beads. My car literally had a rattle.
Now, my car is beautifully clean, washed, vacuumed, and tidy.
My son who was bored, perhaps embarrassed for me, spent the weekend cleaning it.
Which brings me to Lent. On March 1, we marked the beginning of the season of Lent with the Ash Wednesday Eucharist.
One thing I admire about our Chapel time is what we learn about different faiths and cultures. I have learned about Holi and Purim Spiel and many others celebrations. Sometimes I wonder though if we assume everyone knows what the Christian observations are about.
I don't blame you if you find it confusing. "Lent" isn't in the Bible, and not everyone observes it the same way. Some churches impose ashes—a reminder of our mortality. Some churches stop singing "alleluia"—to increase the joy at Easter when they return. Some believers give up things—chocolate, personal pleasures, or bad habits.
But common to them all is the idea of preparation—preparation for the story of death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
It is easy to overlook in the liturgical calendar, between Christmas and Easter, that
Jesus has grown from the helpless baby to the resurrected Lord who is powerful, strong,
and compassionate. In anticipation of that house guest, we clean up.
So many Christians during this season exert some kind of effort and discipline to prepare their hearts.
If I can't keep my car clean, I need all the reminders I can get about my heart.
One person we all know understood this. The original St. Mary's girl—Mary. The last time we saw Mary, she was receiving the gifts: gold, myrrh, and frankincense. She was already preparing. The Gospel tells us, "But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." Mary knew that the baby Jesus would be seen again in a different setting—the one we are preparing for during Lent.
And speaking of treasure. It was only after my car was cleaned that I found the diamond solitaire that had fallen years ago from my wife's wedding ring! (see my Facebook post for the whole story).So what did my car teach me about Lent? My car is like my mind, my conscience, my heart—it gets cluttered with junk. With care and consideration, I am able to see that the treasure was there all along.