Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Epiphany to Lent

Early this month in the Christian Calendar we move from the season of Epiphany to the season of Lent. There’s one last blowout, on Tuesday February 5. And then Ash Wednesday on February 6 begins the 40 days of Lent (Sundays don’t count) leading up to Easter Sunday, March 23.

Epiphany is the season of discovering our personal identity and purpose. “Who am I?” we ask and “What am I called to do?” Some people think a “call” in the religious sense only counts if it comes from somewhere outside us, but the divine dwells within us, too. So if you don’t feel in any way directed toward your purpose it’s just as valid to ask, “Well then, what would I like to do?” Understanding and following your own desires, balanced with responsibility and accountability to the larger community, is also an appropriately healthy spiritual path.

In Lent the questions shift to an appraisal of our mortality. Part of the answer to the question “Who am I?” is that “I’m a finite human being.” Awareness of our inevitable death lends a sense of urgency to the question of “What should I do?” We have only a limited time to learn the answer and respond.

But it is the ending of life that gives life its value. It’s because we won’t be here forever that what we do now has worth. The choices of our lives have consequences both for our future, and for the future long after we’re gone.

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