{Mugs…the theme of my 40 Lenten daily reflections this year. Odd, I know…but one must begin somewhere, and the kitchen cupboard seemed as good a place as any.}

A travel mug, insulated, designed for a car’s cup holder, and this one a bit beat up from, well, travel. This, like many (maybe most) of our mugs, was a gift. FromDSC07358.JPG the bank. We’ll never forget the day, because we had signed mortgage papers that threw us deeply into debt, but the kind of debt few of us can escape when making the biggest purchase of a lifetime. We tossed some down payment money to the bank, they loaned us many dollars for our new 1840s home, and then they gave us this mug.

So much for the background. I guess I could write more about that day in downtown Ithaca, or about the excitement of moving into that quaint old house near Cayuga Lake, but I’m led to center on the word “pace.” I have no idea where the “funding company” got its name, but I know how pace has to do with Lent.

For forty days we who adopt one or more spiritual practices especially for Lent would benefit from thinking about pace, about the tempo of our lives, about the strides we wish to make toward (generally) some goal, or (specifically) Easter. Many of us would benefit from slowing down a little as we move through our days. Others might find value in picking up the pace, heading with more deliberate speed toward a voice or vision that calls to us.

They say that the word Lent comes from the Old English for the “lengthening of days,” the growing sunlight that follows the December solstice and leads us, eventually, to spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. That timing is of little consequence, especially when we consider how little it means to Christians in, say, Australia. The most important consideration is that we have this forty days in which to focus on our spiritual well-being, to reflect on the meaning of all our days in the light of Easter’s sunrise. Part of that process is considering our pace.

Slowing down a bit is one option. Taking the time…avoiding the rush…being in the moment. Lots of ways to intentionally pause. If we could establish a habit of halting our busy-ness for just a while each day, breathing deeply, expressing quiet gratitude for each breath, each step, each person beloved, that Lenten practice could very well create a healthy pattern that would enrich our spiritual life throughout the year.

Are there times when picking up the pace of life might be more appropriate? Maybe breaking out of old routines, leaving lazy ways and confining ruts behind, and reenergizing our faith commitments– those might make for a holy Lent, wholly refreshed and lively. If Lent quickened our pace toward justice and peacemaking, whatever sacrifice that demanded would be worth it, wouldn’t it?

One traditional Lenten discipline is repentance, that is, turning away or turning around from destructive ways and patterns, and turning toward Easter’s light, the dawn of new life beyond the shadow of the empty cross and the cold of the useless grave. If we are moving too quickly through life, with no time to think, consider, reflect, or pray, repentance may mean slowing the pace. If we are stuck, mired, or bored, too tired to dream or too cynical to believe our efforts are worth the calories, repentance could mean rising now, that is, a present resurrection of the spirit that pushes the pace moment by moment, arousing, enlivening, stirring us to action that awakens the world (or at least our world).

Consider the spiritual pace of life, the call to repentance, the possibility of personal renewal. Find the rhythm you need. The Lord of the Dance will smile at your steps.