Encountering the Unexpected
By Bishop-Elect Kym Lucas
“Ugh!” she said, as she bustled around the sacristy. “Maybe it’s a heresy to say this, but I really hate Lent.” She looked at me sheepishly, waiting for my condemnation. “Why do you hate Lent?” I asked. She heaved a sigh. “All this silence! I can’t stand silence in church. It feels like I’m being punished!”
I had to work hard to keep my “Are you serious?” emotions off my face. For me, the notion of silence as punishment was inconceivable. I am a mother, parenting four vocal and active children while living with two high-strung dogs; my spirit is always praying, even begging, for silence. I relish the midnight hour, when the husband and the kids and the dogs have all gone to bed, and quiet settles over the house. Even as a kid, my being sent to my room or banned from TV elicited a “fine by me” response. As an introvert who loves the Lenten season, who lives for any excuse for being quiet, I remember being stunned by this confession in the sacristy. I could not fathom how silence could ever feel like punishment.
Yet, as often happens with the Holy Spirit, this random Saturday encounter with a member of the parish altar guild transformed my experience of Lent. That Lenten season, instead of giving something up, I took the opportunity to consider how an extrovert might experience the presence of the Holy. I deliberately immersed myself in the noise of the city, seeking how God might be speaking in and over the din. I decided to try “Ashes to Go” and learned the art of creating liturgy on the fly. I spent time in Dupont Circle, talking to the homeless and engaging professionals on lunch break. I made time every Sunday to ask parishioners about their experience of Lent.
This intentional shift in my behavior was exhausting and at times deeply uncomfortable. It was also a profoundly Holy experience. It brought me several unexpected blessings: a conversation about suffering and mortality with a child of Holocaust survivors; a person who asked me to pray for her without words; almost having my heart melt when a homeless man asked me if I thought God loved him. By the time Holy Week rolled around, I was a different person. I am still an introvert who needs quiet time; but I am a (slightly) humbler introvert, having recognized how my spiritual snobbery impinged on my discipleship and hampered my Gospel witness. God is not only God in silence; God is God everywhere. All. The. Time. And the Holy Spirit’s voice can be heard above the noise if we have ears to hear.
The Lenten season invites us to walk with Jesus the narrow path that leads to new life. It is both a personal journey and a corporate one. It is a journey on which we will encounter the unexpected. Sometimes we are required to let go of our preferences and long-held convictions; sometimes we must take on the challenge of seeing through another’s eyes. Sometimes we must admit that while we thought we knew where we were going, our Savior was calling us to a totally different place.
As the Church, we the Body of Christ walk this journey together. Lent is when faith is formed and reformed by the graphic reminder that we must die to self to live in Christ. We who follow Jesus are agents of the Spirit’s transforming power for one another, as we all strive to live more deeply the faith we’ve received.
I count it a blessing to begin my ministry as bishop-elect in the season of Lent. I am looking forward to walking the discipleship journey with you. I’m eagerly anticipating the ways the Spirit will shape our life together. I hope that you will share your experience of Lent with me. After Easter, I invite you to send me a note; tell me how this year’s walk with Jesus through the cross and tomb transformed you. I want to hear the ways the Spirit is moving in The Episcopal Church of Colorado so that we can embrace our new life together.
SHARE YOUR STORY with Bishop-Elect Kym Lucas about how you’ve been transformed or how you see the Spirit moving by mailing her at the Office of the Bishop, 1300 N. Washington St., Denver, CO 80203.