“The inner self is as secret as God and, like him, it evades every concept that tries to seize hold of it with full possession. It is a life that cannot be held and studied as object, because it not “a thing.” It is not reached and coaxed forth from hiding by any process under
the sun, including meditation. All that we can do with any spiritual discipline is produce within ourselves something of the silence, the humility, the detachment, the purity of heart and the indifference which are required if the inner self is to make some shy, unpredictable manifestation of his presence.” Thomas Merton
Lent, if not anything else, is our (often meager) attempt to gain some of the silence, humility, detachment, and indifference Metton speaks of. Whether through an intentional fast from certain foods or conveniences, or through a more focused sense of awareness of your everyday feelings and rhythms, Lent is a unique time of consecration.
It is not about somehow conjuring up God’s presence. Instead, it’s an opportunity to remove obstacles to it, including our (false) selves. So often during Lent, people talk to me about failing at it, or disappointing themselves, or slipping up. More often than not, I’ll simply say, “Relax. You wouldn’t grow apart from falling, failure, humiliation.”
In the end, Lent might just show you and me that we’re not God. And that’s what it was about anyway. In fact, that’s when real intimacy begins…