My husband Graham and I have agreed that our Lenten discipline will be to try and both work through the same book ‘Giving It Up’ by Maggi Dawn. Really its to meet the need of the moment – the ‘moment’ being a very busy Lent in which I have multiple study weekends at college and essay to research and write, and the desire to focus on something outside of these in my preparation for ordination, whilst staying ‘connected’ to Graham, his needs and his concerns. To ground that little load in something Biblical and reflective just seemed sensible, even if we both need to be realist that at times his teaching load and my studies (sometimes in an internet challenged’ environment), might make this a bit tricky.
Graham chose the book after his experiences of Maggi’s writing in the on-line Advent book club. Maggi’s written recently on her blog about the idea that Lenten observance should be a community practice; which was encouraging since some friends had missed Graham’s reflections after Advent and have asked to join our journey. So, in some small way this will be a community activity, online.
The introduction to Maggi’s ‘Giving It Up’ book talks about the derivation of Lent coming from the Angli-Saxon ‘lencten’, describing the lengthening of days that accompanies this time of year in the northern hemisphere. What it doesn’t say is the difference this day lengthening might have made to historic observances of Lent. In our contemporary western culture I’m not sure that day length changing makes much differences, though I’m sure that Graham is just beginning to appreciate not always travelling both to and from work in the dark, and at some psychological level that can only be a good thing.
For me, there is a sense in which the days are shortening. The number of days till my ordination that is. The pressure to complete certain tasks is increasing, and the strange mixture of excitement and doubts in my ability to carry out some of the tasks associated with ordained life is also developing rapidly. [And yes, before you say it, I know God will equip and curacy is a period of training, but that logic is yet to defy the emotional responses!] Both our lives will never be the same after my ordination, and there is a sort of yearning within me for what people call the ‘ontological change’ that occurs around ordination. Oddly it is a desire that feels currently like being set back on the path and focus of my discernment process, after the ‘distractions’ (day I say it) of ordination training.
And this is where I hope ‘Giving It Up’ will help. Help me set aside the blurred images and confusion that in some sense seems to surround God in the process of ordination training and see the God I was called to serve as an ordained person, more clearly, in conjunction with seeing a vision of God’s role in our future life as clergy and spouse perhaps a little more clearly.
Graham’s blog will be hosting our #givingitup conversation with me largely using his comment facility, unless timescales don’t really dovetail in which case mine will be here. Please feel free to follow and join in the conversation. The first post is here.