Lent 1: The Wild Language of Lent

Into EarthImage: Into Earth © Jan Richardson

Readings for Lent 1, Year B:
Genesis 9.8-17; Psalm 25.1-10; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.9-15

As Jesus knew, going into the barren and uncomfortable places
isn’t about proving how holy we are, or how tough, or how brave.
It’s about letting God draw us into the place where we don’t
know everything, don’t have to know everything, indeed may be
emptied of nearly everything we think we know.

—from Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert
The Painted Prayerbook, February 2008

Into the desert, again. Into the wilderness that waits for us, still. Ten years we have traveled through Lent here at The Painted Prayerbook. It is never quite the same path from year to year, never precisely the landscape we explored the last time around. This, of course, is part of the point of Lent: it disrupts what is comfortable, familiar, and known, that we may be startled out of our customary ways of seeing.

As I gathered up the reflections I’ve written for the first Sunday of Lent across the past decade, my eye was drawn to the vocabulary that has emerged as we’ve explored this season—the Lenten lexicon that has taken shape as we’ve journeyed through these weeks again and again.

I began to write down the words that drew my eye as I revisited these reflections. There was wilderness, of course, and desert. There was memory and story and earth.

Pilgrimage, I wrote; sustenance, breath.
Hunger, thirst, graces.

Emptying, angels, sweetness, strength.
Passage, preparing, solitude, beasts.
Comfort, wild, wrestling, solace.
Recognition, wing, clearing, liminal.

There were questions and chaos in the Lenten lexicon,
and knowing,
discernment, treasure, initiation,
essential, sojourn, practice.

There was enough.

And there was this word, shimmering in the midst of them all; the most fundamental word we need to know in this or any season:

Beloved, beloved, beloved.

As I look back over the list, I wonder how this vocabulary, this Lenten lexicon, will arrange itself this time around. How will these words constellate in this season, what path will they create, what map will they make? When I look back on this landscape from the other side of Easter, what story might these words be able to tell me? What new words might arrive to help fill in the gaps, the hollows, the holes?

What are some of the words that inhabit your own Lenten vocabulary, that have emerged in your own journey through this season, year by year? If you make a list, what do you notice? What story—or litany, or poem, or map, or—might these words begin to make?

From across the past decade, I’ve gathered together these reflections for you—a little Lenten library, offered with gratitude and blessing. Deep peace to you as Lent begins.

Mark 1.9-15 (includes reflections on related Gospel readings)

Lent 1: Where the Breath Begins
Lent 1: Beloved Is Where We Begin
First Sunday of Lent: And the Angels Waited
Day 2: Up from the Water
Day 3: Into the Wilderness
Day 4: With the Wild Beasts
Lent 1: A Blessing for the Wilderness
Lent 1: Into the Wilderness
Lent 1: A River Runs through Him
Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert

Genesis 9.8-17

I Will Remember

Using Jan’s artwork…
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Using Jan’s words…
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5 Responses to “Lent 1: The Wild Language of Lent”

  1. Mary Batich Says:

    Window of opportunity to draw near to God
    Soul work
    Time to reflect
    Time to slow down and work on interior castle
    I love this season called lent

  2. Stephanie Jenkins Says:

    I read your reflection and your powerful constellation of Lenten words, and once again I am so deeply moved by the beauty and power of the Spirit within you. Thank you for creating this sacred space, for allowing your life to break open in these offerings, for your authenticity, artistry and love. Jan, your offerings here have blessed me profoundly. I am so dearly grateful for your Voice crying out in the wilderness. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  3. Amy Camp Says:

    BELOVED is the perfect word for me to WONDER and WANDER with this LENT!
    Thank you!💕❤️💗

  4. Lynda Says:

    I marvel at how God draws together a disparate group of people who all long for the deepening relationship with our Lord that we are offered every moment of our lives. Thank you, Jan, for being a viaduct flowing with life-giving words and images. I don’t know even yet what God is calling me to do or to be during this Lent 2018 but I wait in anticipation and I thank God for always being present and for calling me a beloved daughter. Blessings to you!

  5. Jean Roche Says:

    Jan, Your poem On Ash Wednesday was a seed blossoming into a mini retreat “From Desert Darkness to Enlightenment” , including a guided meditation, You are my Beloved, reflection on ” Pitfalls on the Path of Our Becoming” and delving more deeply into the paradox revelatory of our deepest identity: celebrating what God can do within the ashes and “the stars that blaze in our bones and the galaxies that spiral in the ashes we wear.”The experience concluded with a ritual which involved mingling the ashes on our foreheads with fairy dust glitter! A happening beyond words due to your inspiration!

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