Lenten Leaning

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Lenten Rose in my backyard.

A curious thing about writing is that ever so often, I write a sentence and I’m not really aware of what it means until I reread the words on the page. I wrote in my last blog one of those emergent insights: Truths come gradually and at the same time, in the very moment when they make the most sense.

My husband, Mitch, loves the song, Lean In Toward the Light, by Carrie Newcomer. I wasn’t so captivated.

Last Lenten season, Carrie’s notion of “the beautiful, not yet” (the album title with the song, Lean In Toward the Light) was my survival mantra with so many unknowns in my immediate future.

Now, I’m on the threshold of the next spring. As I half-consciously listened to Carrie’s album the other day, two words in the Lean In song caught my attention: practice resurrection. The words are the last line of Wendell Berry’s poem, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, and call us to lean into the mystery and risk of an unknowing life. Those two words drew me in so that I might hear what I needed to hear for this moment in my life: lean in.

“Lean in” has become a popular feminist notion since Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, published her best selling book with the same title a few years back. According to grammerist,  lean in means to grab opportunities without hesitation. That description is consistent with Sandberg’s vision but doesn’t fit my own. I’d like to change the word “grab” to “ease into,” which I believe is more fitting for how I imagine leaning in.  My revised definition is more in line with an older meaning for lean in: to incline into something, such as a skier leaning in at a turn or pedestrian leaning into the wind during a heavy gale.

Leaning in requires strength. Leaning in is physical and emotional and conscious. Leaning in is a beginning, not a plunge. Leaning in implies being supported; I am not alone. Leaning in is my theme for this Lenten season.

During the coming 40 days until Easter, I plan to gently lean in. Lean into the abundance of opportunities that move me out of dark places, while at the same time, make the dark places okay. Easing into the light takes away the sharpness of the contrast. This posture is akin to letting in a little light to challenge the darkness, the deficit thinking that binds me. I practice resurrection when I lean into the newness of this moment.

My focus for this Lenten spring is to discover the divine light that does shine through everything and everyone when I lean in to see it.  In Carrie’s words:

Lean in toward the Light.  Keep practicing resurrection.