It is early; the house is quiet. Save for the focused hum of the heat pump and the clipped complaints of the cat as he gripes about the fact that no one will let him out of the house (not while it’s still dark), there are no sounds. My husband and my son and the dog are still asleep.
Lent begins today. This year, there will be no literal ashes for me.
But you can carve out broken, burnt places in your heart, if you take the time. What you discover might not leave a visible mark on your skin, but it’s there just the same. Ashes smudge inside as well as out.
My Lenten practice for this year is to rise, early. To do exactly what I am doing now – to get up before the sun pushes back the night; then to read, to think, to write. I am giving up that extra hour of sleep for these extra moments of contemplation.
Ironically, yesterday I finished the final page of the journal that has held me fast for the past 12 months. It’s a sketchbook, so I filled it with sketches and prayers and doodles and colors, and who could have known that it would follow the liturgical calendar so precisely? So today I sit without an empty page…
…the opening for metaphor looms large…
There is always an empty page.
This morning, it is the open hour I’m offering, staked firmly to my believe that it’s okay to be empty, especially in a season of sacrifice and contemplation. It’s not just an extra hour; it is the bandwidth of my soul, expanded and loosened.
It’s not just empty, it’s expectant.
My boss tweeted early this morning; phone in hand as I carried the first cup of coffee to my little work and study space, I saw only the first phrase flash across the locked screen:
If you have too much to do –
I auto-filled the rest of the phrase myself:
If you have too much to do, maybe you are doing too much.
If you have too much to do, you can’t do what’s important.
if you have too much to do, you’re probably tired all the time.
If you have too much to do, you’ll never see how beautiful the day can be.
If you have too much to do, maybe you’re doing it wrong.
You could complete that phrase a million different ways, and each time you’d have hit on something true. Interestingly enough, it was the perfect title for my day – this first day of sleep-sacrifice (which is a bigger deal for me than you might imagine; I am not fond of giving up a leisurely wake up. The snooze button is my best friend.)
If you have too much to do, maybe you ought to give yourself an extra hour to get some of it done.
That’s the way I’m choosing to see today.
Funny; none of my guesses were correct. The actual tweet looked liked this:
— Brian C. Hughes (@brianchughes) March 1, 2017
And here’s the thing: We take the inspiration we are given and run with it.
Or sit with it, as the case may be.