The Christian season of Lent begins today (Ash Wednesday). Lent is a penitential time to prepare our lives and souls for remembering Jesus’ death on Good Friday and claiming Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter (April 12). Benedictine Joan Chittister writes that “Lent is a time of growth, not of discipline for its own sake.”
In preparation for Lent, here’s a quote from Trappist monk Thomas Merton where he encourages the embracing of what is Profoundly Real as the path to God.
The basic and most fundamental problem of the spiritual life is this acceptance of our hidden and dark self, with which we tend to identify all the evil that is in us. We must learn by discernment to separate the evil growth of our actions from the good ground of the soul. And we must prepare that ground so that a new life can grow up from it within us, beyond our knowledge and beyond our conscious control. The sacred attitude is, then, one of reverence, awe and silence before the mystery that begins to take place within us when we become aware of our innermost self. In silence, hope, expectation, and unknowing, the [person] of faith abandons [herself or] himself to the divine will: not as an arbitrary and magic power whose decrees must be spelled out from cryptic ciphers, but as to the stream of reality and life itself. The sacred attitude is, then, one of deep and fundamental respect for the real in whatever new form it may present itself.–Thomas Merton
The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation, William H. Shannon, editor (HarperSanFrancisco, 2003)