It’s a little bit embarrassing to notice how long it’s been since I posted here… hello world! I have been living, writing, working, reading, and changing in the past month. I don’t even really know where to begin. BUT! Once again, I am guest posting over at Julie’s blog Greener Trees for our awesome little reading group. Check out “Teach Us,” some thoughts on Helen Gardner’s The Art of T.S. Eliot, Eliot’s poem Ash Wednesday, and Lent. (Appropriate, right?) Grateful for this little group and the opportunity to dig a little deeper into great poetry with them…

'Lent votives' photo (c) 2012, Jamie - license: started as a nudge, a notion, and I couldn’t shake it. “Give up coffee.” One small gesture of no spiritual or physical importance, but enough to shift a little something in a soul too used to believing grace in theory.

It was the first year an Evangelical-raised, still-wandering believer tasted the bitter wine of Lent.

Growing up, my understanding of the season was limited at best, ignorant at worst. The way I saw it, Lent was “a Catholic thing”: binge on Tuesday, wear ashes on Wednesday, and give something up until Easter — diet Coke, coffee, meat, swearing — whatever spurred you on to some sort of implied holiness. Until a friend of mine explained why he practiced this mystery, that his fasting was not about the giving up, but about the awareness of his limits and a tiny sacrifice to prepare his heart for Easter, I couldn’t understand why anybody would want to do this other than old-fashioned church guilting.

I have practiced Lent in my own small, somewhat private fashion for the past several years. I wish I could tell glowing stories of how I conquered my fleshly desires and inspired others to greatness, but truth be told, I mostly spent those 40 days a year failing and rationalizing and restarting and failing some more.

Lent begins again this week. I’m going to give something up. I’m probably going to fail too. And yet, I still want to come, ash marked, to lay my own tiny sacrifice on the altar of grace.

This is the tension. Teach me to care and not to care.