The first time it struck me, I was reading Henri Nouwen’s Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring. “It seems fair to say that between the ages of one and thirty, people are considered young; between thirty and sixty, they are considered middle aged,” Nouwen writes. I was 29 and a little terrified.
One day, as I considered my routine of pills and naps and exercises, I saw that it is not unlike praying the hours.
Sacramentality is the breath of Christian life—life that springs from the sacraments and life that yearns to return to them.
My Lenten practice has almost involved some kind of endurance. As a child I usually gave up something like chocolate or sweets. My practice evolved into committing to walk to the grocery store or buy nothing but food or, one year, give up plastic. But regardless of what I took on or gave up, I have always intended for this to last through all of Lent. The practice ends—or finds a new form—at Holy Week, and the endurance test ends with it. This year, Lent has an entirely different rhythm for me—because of a book by writer and Benedictine oblate Paula Huston.
Sustainable Lenten disciplines anticipate an Easter in which they will continue. But surely Easter hope is for something more.