For me, Lent is about making space for God's presence and blessing to emerge. This is not easy, primarily because we live at a time and in a place in which we feel pressure to fill things in rather than to open them up. Lenten intentions often end up being a series of practices that are designed to demonstrate loyalty and devotion to the living Christ, but instead become enterprises that crowd out the soul.
And beneath the pressure of taking things on is a more insidious temptation to arrive at solutions, provide answers and fix problems. We are not inclined to provide the space for clarity to emerge, or for blessing to take root.
We have seen this happen on a national scale within the last few days. Seemingly within minutes of Justice Antonin Scalia's sudden death last weekend, the political posturing began. The ancient practice, engaged by nearly every religious tradition on earth - of giving space over to mourning, honoring and remembering, was breached by the clamoring for political advantage. We can complain about it all, but we need to recognize that what we do on a national level is in many ways an extension of what we do on a personal level: we fill the space and crowd God out.
Last summer at General Convention, I heard a prayer/poem that I have since been repeating every day:
If I make in my heart a manger for his birth
Then once again God becomes a child on earth.
We have been given the capacity, indeed the gift, by God, to turn our hearts into mangers. The space is within us. So is God's desire to enter it. For us to provide space in our hearts gives God an even greater opportunity to continue the God's work of creation.
And it sets us free.