James Alison is the author of Broken Hearts and New Creations: Intimations of a Great Reversal (Continuum) and a forthcoming adult introduction to the Christian faith, The Forgiving Victim: An Induction into Christian Vulnerability.
It seems counterintuitive, but Lent is all about abundance. When we focus on a time of renunciation and discipline, these are not ends in themselves, but the conditions necessary for the enrichment of our imagination.
Our Deuteronomy passage is set in the land of Moab, beyond the Jordan, maybe where Jesus went after his baptism and ordination. The 40 years in the wilderness are over, and the children of Israel have not yet been allowed into the Promised Land.
Why do we humans so love to fake goodness? Year after year Lent brings another shout-out to the soul. Year after year we find ourselves dragged forward against the grain of our pretensions of religiosity, through the vulnerability of hearts tender with shames and fears, so that God may find us and make of us transmitters of a light other than our own.