Lent: The Journey of Embodiment
Back in 2008 I had this crazy idea cross my mind which eventually became a life goal for me: I wanted to run the Chicago Marathon.
I had lived in Chicago for about a year-and-a-half and had become an awe-struck spectator who was inspired by these runners. These marathoners demonstrated tenacity, strength, athleticism, and just a dash of mental instability that compelled them to run 26.2 miles through the city’s streets. I developed an admiration for them and wanted to be able to one day run alongside them.
I eventually bought a ton of running gear and even a book on marathon running. I was ready! Well, except for the small fact that I had never run for longer than about 30 minutes..so in reality, I wasn’t ready at all. But how did the people who ran the marathon get ready? Like any good athlete, they had to train. I quickly signed up for a marathon training program through a local charity and started a long and grueling training season that lasted six months.
Running on marathon day is exciting, fun, and both mentally and physically challenging. There’s nothing quite like the experience of running around and having people cheer you on like you are a celebrity. But before any of the glory comes a tremendous amount of work. For six months I had to endure long, hot training runs. I had to discipline myself. I had to watch what kinds of food and drink I put into my body. I had to deny myself certain things for a time in order to achieve my ultimate goal.
As we approach Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of this season in my life where I had to take this journey to arrive to a greater glory. In order to run the race I had to embody the discipline of an athlete. During my training session I suffered through sprains, strains, and setbacks, but it all prepared me for the sweet success at the end. As we begin this season of Lent that mirrors the time that Jesus prepared himself for his earthly ministry, we–as individuals, as a church, as a community–are called to go on a journey to prepare for the glory of the Resurrection.
When Jesus started his ministry, it changed the world forever. As we learn to embody that ministry during Lent, may we, too forever change ourselves and the world that we live in.