by Karla Koon
What are you giving up for Lent? This is a popular question in some circles as Lent begins. For some, they have a compulsory answer, somewhere between a bumper sticker and an elevator speech. Abstinence from chocolate, coffee, carbs, and alcohol top the list with consumption reduction of “social media”, TV, and vitriolic news, not far behind. Beyond the Lenten sound bite in casual conversation, each person has their own intentionality that hopefully draws them into a deeper relationship with God.
In years past, my Lenten journey has been about slowing down, being less scheduled, and reflecting on where I need to turn back to God. For me, Lent has been a retraction into simpler and less cluttered life. I reflected on the start of Lent last year; I was well grounded in all my chosen disciplines for the season. Little did I know that this entire year would take on a Lenten hue. In the past year, so much has been given up, sacrificed, relinquished, resigned, and released. It is hard to imagine giving something up for Lent this year.
The week before Ash Wednesday, I made one of my infrequent trips into my office building. A small photo, that has been in my office for over a decade, caught my attention. It was a picture from the Musée Rodin in Paris of a sculpture called The Hand of God.
I reminisced about the that day in Paris; the unseasonably warm weather in December; the stroll through the museum gardens. I remember this sculpture. I walked around this sculpture, seeing all sides, before quickly snapping a flurry of photos to try and capture the impossible: every aspect of the sculpture. With the help of a mirror, I captured both the Creator and the Beloved. God holding the earth, creating us; molding us; sculpting us.
I held my little picture frame in my office, partly remembering a wonderful family trip and partly seeing this dusty picture anew.
This year’s Ash Wednesday was marked with a virtual service and self-imposition of ashes. Another first in the time of COVID. “Remember that I am dust, and to dust I shall return.” There was something about saying those words, echoing in your ears and heart, as you feel the grit of the ashes between your thumb and forehead that was a personal, intimate, and profound. As our Zoom service continued, my mind kept returning to the image of The Hand of God.
For Lent, I am going to give into being dust. In a way, that is giving up something. It is giving up the hard and marbleized parts of who I am, whether formed over decades or just this last year. Yielding the hardened parts of my mind, heart, and soul to dust, I look to the hand of God to mold and sculpt me anew. I give into the wisdom of the Creator’s hand.
Karla Koon is a Worship Leader and Eucharistic Minister at St, Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. When not serving at church or working as the Director of HR Operations and Administration for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (Catholic Charities), you can find Karla, reading, quilting, golfing, hiking, kayaking, and gathering with friends and family.