Intentions for Lent

Inconsistent describes my Lenten practices over the years. I've done my share of giving up coffee, sweets, and baked goods. There have been efforts to do something differently--pray at a regular time, read through a part of scripture. But inconsistency always accompanies intention.

Over the past three weeks I've rolled around ideas about what to do, what to give up, what to take on for Lent. I wanted to be able to follow through, all the way through Lent to Easter with the practice. Nothing bubbled up. I tossed around all the usuals for the past three weeks, but nothing stood up and demanded, "Here is your Lenten practice this year."

Then a word. Intention. It's one of the themes threading through my experiences, learning, and practices over the last 18 months.

On Ash Wednesday I sat in the quiet of the early morning hours to pray and write, read and listen. I repeated the question that had plagued the previous three weeks."What should I do for Lent?"

"Intention," came the reply. "Do today with intentionAnd dointention one day at a time."

Such brief instruction, but direct and significant. And it made sense.

That morning I made a dietary choice for the day. I committed to ask forgiveness for a deep wound I caused years ago.

Psalm 37, one of yesterday's readings, admonishes, "Do not fret...Be still before the Lord." So my intention for Day 2: Put aside fretting (which looks like frustration, occasional irritation, and judgment on me). I also made a dietary decision for the day.

Today, Day 3 and another set of intentions: Take a next step in my forgiveness work and respond to someone whom I would prefer to ignore. There was another dietary decision.

Where will this practice of intention lead? I don't know, and it really doesn't matter. Not now. What does matter is this day, and that I stay true to today's intentions.

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