Is success the point of Lent?

Some surprising thoughts from a gal who is not Catholic, but observing Lent this year:  Ann Voskamp on “Why Failing at Lent–May be Succeeding at Lent?”

I can’t seem to follow through in giving up for Lent.

Which makes me want to just give up Lent.

Which makes me question Who I am following.

Which may precisely be the point of Lent.

You can read the rest here.  (She has some pretty nice freebies on her site as well.)

“The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.”

How do I give thanks even in suffering?

I shifted my weight and paper crackled under me. My chest constricted, my eyes sagged and my mind tangled like an old cobweb.

The doctor looked up, “There’s hope for guys your age, this isn’t unusual.” I doubted that and continued rocking back and forth.

I come back to that room in my mind a lot. The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.

My father sat across from me, a steadying presence. My wife held my hand, scared. I rocked with chronic anxiety and depression. My fears had distended into sleepless nights, sweaty sheets and a sick and hopeless heart.

The walls of my life closed in when I was just 23, newly married and a grad student – and I wanted out. In the basement of my parents’ house I cursed God.

With tears carelessly wiped and flung, my fists pounded the bed. I yelled my pain into pillows. I screamed at God, scared he’d leave me.

He didn’t leave. He never intended to.

Fourteen years later, I still struggle with anxiety, but the doctor was right. There is hope. It’s the practice of giving thanks.

There’s a book I always go back to, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. A friend dared her to write 1,000 things she was thankful for in a year. A mother of six and farmer’s wife, Voskamp finds epiphanies around every corner.

The smallest thing, like the way sunlight hits grated cheese, fills her with happiness.

As a guy, I picked up the book skeptically. The cover shows a pair of hands holding a nest with robin eggs and a background just a touch lighter than “Lady Finger Beige”. Yes, I had to research that color, as well as how to spell “beige”.

But this line slashed through my skepticism: “I enter the world like every person enters the world: with clenched fists.”

You can read the rest here.

“In the midst of brokenness”

Pointing you over to A Holy Experience today:

copyright Ann Voskamp

copyright Ann Voskamp

He points a finger at me, shakes it like a wand, like a prayer, like shaking me awake.

“I need to talk with you.”

Gordon’s on his tiptoes, looking for me through the lunch crowd, punctuating each word high in the air with his left pointer finger. “I’ve got a question for you.” He’s stabbing the air. I feel poked in the chest, pushed up against the back of my chair. I reach for water, something to wet a thick, scratchy throat.

A question? What kind of question? Why ask me a question? How can he ask anything of me — and think he’d get anything worthwhile?

I live in the curve of questions, sheltered under and arch of mystery, all my declarative periods couched with a questioning mark. 

I know little and answers elude me and my world is wide expanses of wondering andseeking is the way I find my way. Gordon’s scanning to see if there’s an empty chair at my table.

He’s carrying his plate high, his lunch, a green salad, a pulled pork sandwich, baked beans. I lay down my fork, all those tines.

“But…” Can he hear me over this din? “I won’t have answers.”

You can read the rest here.

About all those shadows we live with

I haven’t reposted from Ann Voskamp recently.  Probably because I figure that you all follow her.  But just in case, you don’t, here’s the latest:

I take the kid that fell off the rip stick and broke his foot back to the doctor.

He may or may not have laid an afternoon or two on the kitchen floor, wailing that I had ruined his life.

Because I had the audacity to not let him and his cast go drive a tractor or jump on the trampoline or swing down the zipline. Yeah, I’m sorta old fashioned and ridiculous like that.

The doctor says one more week of cast swinging. I think the kid may become a happy human pinwheel on crutches, flipping all the way out the doctor’s office.

I get pink eye.

And then youtube how to unclog a toilet so I don’t have to bother the Farmer who is putting in 24 hour days back to back in the field, because yeah, nobody wants to drag their dirt-crusted selves in after 48 hours on an open tractor only to meet a reeking toilet.

You can read the rest here.