Welcome back to our Lenten Devotionals and our hiatus over “spring break”. Since 2007, devotionals have been shared by students, faculty and staff during Lent and Advent, and yet today we find ourselves in a challenging time across creation. There’s so much we’re figuring out now throughout our communities – some of it life-threatening and critical while other things routine and mundane. Perhaps it leads us to ask – what can digital community look like not just in times of great celebration, but also in times of great struggle? Does community only exist in person or can our digital connections be places of hope, relationship, and possibility? All of here in the RSL community believe they can.
So starting today our devotionals will shift slightly. We will continue to ask students, faculty, staff and alumni to share their hearts with one another in the Lenten season, but do so acknowledging another new season is upon us. It will be a new direction, but one that has the same heart as when these devotionals began long ago.
As a reminder, you can find previous devotionals on our devotionals web page. More importantly, you can find our chaplains and campus ministers here to support our entire TCU community. We’re always available, and while that may mean connecting virtually or in new ways, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Later today, you’ll find a new and most certainly evolving list of spiritual care and support resources on our website. All my best and all my prayers – Angela
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
When I was a child my father often talked about having a “contingency plan”. I remember this especially well one time when we were packing up for a Girl Scout father-daughter camping trip and he was walking me through his overly-extensive packing list. Mind you, as a six-year-old Brownie Girl Scout I had no earthly idea what “contingency” meant, but I realized later it was just one of the many ways he was always encouraging me to be prepared.
In recent days, we’ve seen our communities follow that same advice – to be prepared. In some cases this is happening in abundance as grocery carts are filled with non-perishable food and jumbo size toiletries. Many of our store shelves are barren as hard-working employees patiently restock or graciously help someone find that last loaf of bread.
While there is much to say another time about how we’re preparing our pantries and our homes in this season, that it not my point. Instead it’s about how we prepare something completely different. As a colleague of mine pointed out last week there’s been much advice from the CDC and other official sources on how to prepare physically and practically, but there’s been no official advice of course on how we prepare our hearts and souls. For some of us we turn to friends and family. For others it may be scripture in our various traditions and virtual services at our places of worship. For some it might just be finding a new routine, a new way to balance or even binging on Netflix and ice cream.
I believe that it’s here that the Lenten journey, just like many rituals and stories across our traditions, can speak to us. In Lent we’re reminded that while we are part of creation made in God’s image, that we’re also quirky, imperfect, and perhaps just somewhat broken. It’s in that brokenness and imperfection that we decide and re-decide every day which path we will take not just with our feet, but with our hearts. Sometimes as we make those decisions we may take two steps forward and one step back. Perhaps we will falter, stumble and even fall down entirely. However, I believe that at the end of the day the best way to prepare our hearts for this season is to continue leading with them. To lead with love and not hatred and indifference, with hope and not fear, and with patience and grace to both stranger and friend above all. It’s hard to do, but it’s a time to ask “what does this moment and this new reality require of me?” and then to head that direction.
That’s what I’m asking today, and I hope I can continue to seek the answers in community with everyone here and throughout the rest of creation.
(adapted from multiple sources)
Lord help me and guide me so that today I may –
be prepared, but not anxious
be aware, but not desperate
be vigilant, but not fearful
be joyful, but not clueless and
be faithful, but not careless.
Guide my hands and feet for the day ahead, but most of all guide my heart.
Now and always. Amen.