Wednesday, 13 February 2013


I woke up with this number in my mind: 40.

40 days of Lent.

40 years of age.

I wasn't so OK with this new age until I made a plan for celebration - that Derek and I would go to a lovely bed and breakfast up north for a night, followed by some snowshoeing and spa decadence on the actual b-day. Then 2 days later, we had some folks to our house for an evening of grooving to the happy rhythms of a steel drum band. It was a wonderful way to start my 40s. I even got to learn how to play a scale on the steel drum! I think I'm almost ready to play at the Santa Claus parade now.

in the cold plunge pool
and of course, the family Bollywood dance
This milestone has been cause for more introspection than usual. How do I want to go forward in these next years of my life? How can I live more fully? Yesterday I mentioned some reasons I don't feel particularly adult-like sometimes. I'm sure there are other mistakes or omissions from my 30s and earlier too. A while ago, I was walking down the sidewalk and heard 2 women behind me. One said, "There are 2 things you need in your 30s: a good tailor and investment pieces." I almost laughed right there. There I was, in the last months of my 30s, and I had managed to make it through without either.

Back to 40; I'm getting sidetracked. I love how the number 40 is used in the Bible to mean "a long time" - Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness, 40 nights on the ark, 40 years wandering in the wilderness. For those who observe Lent by giving up certain foods or drinks, Lent can feel like a long time too. But I want to do something in Lent that will lead to a lasting change in my journey. This year, I want to walk through the shadows - remember the dark - during this Lenten period.

Maybe it's because the first thing I did this morning at 6:00 am was to read an email from a friend who has a 6 year old son. She is an incredibly strong mom, and she is walking with her son through a very dark time: he is battling brain cancer. Her email this morning showed hope, and courage, but I had to blink back the tears as I read the dark. The prognosis of possibly only a few more months.

My eyes froze on the words. No. How can this be?

All of my stupid worries pale so much in comparison to this desolate pit.

Psalm 40 has long been a favourite, especially U2's version through song.

"I waited patiently for the Lord, he inclined and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord."

The chorus of this U2 version is reminiscent of Isaiah 6, crying out to God in agony.

"How long to sing this song? How long? How long?"

I love this mixture - walking the tightrope between patient prayer and urgent plea.

This evening I will put on ashes - though they make take the form of oil if I can't get myself somewhere that has ashes. And I'll remember the dark. The sick, the hungry, the depressed, the cancerous ills among us.

And I'll pray - with patience and with urgence.


  1. Your blog encourages me - thank you.

  2. Have I told you how much I love reading your blog? It is a bright spot when it arrives in my inbox! This is a dark, but necessary post. We will pray too! Lori

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Lori. And for your prayers too.

  3. Thanks for these great reflections on 40. I guess I still have a few months to find my tailor and investment pieces!!

    What I appreciate most about the "long" journey of Lent is that even as we journey deeper into the darkness, until we come face-to-face with the cross of Good Friday, God journey's with us - alongside, behind and before. When the night is as dark as we can possibly imagine, God is still there. For me that places hope squarely within the darkness of this 40 day journey.

    Now, if only you had included a picture of Jack & Irene "grooving" to the steel that would have made my day!

    1. Rev ND: Yes, get out and get a good tailor before it's too late! :)

      I like your reflection on hope amidst darkness.

      You have given me a challenge in terms of photos - I'll hopefully document it when they get back from their present world travels. Take care!