Announcing: ReLent! It’s like Lent, except after Easter is over.

Today is April 7th. Two days after Easter. So it’s about time I got around to participating in Lent.

I mean, sure; Lent is the 40 days before Easter. And yes; that means it’s already over. But I don’t think that’s a very good reason for not participating, do you? Especially because Lent is a good idea. I like Lent. And I seriously meant to do Lent this year. I did. I meant to participate the heck out of Lent. But Lent showed up on time like it always does, making those of us who are tardy for the party look procrastinate-y instead of fashionably late. In other words, ugh.

Now, I realize not all of you are familiar with Lent or the High Church Calendar or any of those Strange Christian Things I talk about from time to time. I deconstructed Lent once here, which includes why I care about it and why I’m taking up all this space to talk about it again:

According to Google, which we all know is the very best place to get religious information, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.”

Lent starts today and continues for the 40 days (not including Sundays) until Easter. In practice here in the States, it’s the time when each participant fasts from something specific to himself or herself. Facebook, traveling by car, mojitos, nachos bell grande – the more creative you are about what you give up, the more Lent points you’re awarded. Minus the part about Lent points, which aren’t a real thing but which would totally make it WAY MORE RAD.

The truth is, Jesusy people in America freestyle when it comes to Lent. We like to participate for loads of reasons. Sometimes to feel closer to God, sometimes as a spiritual discipline, sometimes to draw attention to a cause, and sometimes because our best friends in the whole entire world, Caffeine and Chocolate, come to us in our dreams dressed in red riding hood cloaks with cloven hooves and horns on their heads and tell us with maniacal grins that they own our souls, and we wake up screaming and sweating and longing for big cups o’ Joe and entire bags of Hershey’s nuggets. Lent – it’s a high church synonym for Caffeine and Chocolate Rehab.

At its center, though, Lent, like other cultural and religious observances, pulls us into community with each other and ties us with thick cords to our historical roots. It makes us stop for a season to reconsider who we are at our core. It forces us away from the insignificant things that entangle us and turns our eyes to examine what’s relevant, what drives us.

At its best, Lent isn’t about deprivation. At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls.

At its best, Lent allows us to work in concert with Love to refill our souls. And I missed it. I miss it.

IMG_2823So I was a little bit mopey about not Lenting this year. I’ve just been busy, man. My dad had open heart surgery the same week our kitchen flooded. OF COURSE IT DID. The water mitigation people came. Our floors are still ripped up. Wheeeeee!

And even with everything else going on — surgery and work and water and the occasional full-family bout with incessant, vomittous flu — my kids still wanted things like attention and dinner. Lent just blew by, in other words, and now here I am, Lentless.

Lentless in a season when my soul could’ve used a little refill.

Lentless in a season when I suspect our community could’ve used an infusion of Love and a little reminder that Love pursues us.

Lentless when I wanted to be Preparing for Rebirth.

That’s when I stopped.

That’s when I decided to break the rules.

That’s when I decided to ReLent.

ReLent, which means “To Lent Again” (OBVIOUSLY), and is for those of us who forgot to Lent the first time.

It’s Lent for procrastinators. 

Lent for the wildly busy.

Lent for the forgetful.

Lent for the chronically behind. 

ReLent: Lent with GRACE for Imperfection. Lent for People Who Need Second Chances.

Because, honest to God, if I never did anything I’m behind on – anything I’m late for – I’d never do anything at all. I am behind on All the Things, after all. Always. Always behind. Which, whatever. Just whatever, friends, you know? WHATEVER. I am behind on All the Things, and so I shall do Some Things and not Other Things, and that will be Enough. Which is one of the miracles of life, after all, and of motherhood; that we cannot do All the Things, and so we do Some of the Things and we learn they are Enough, and we are Enough, and we are, in the midst of it all, wildly worthy of Love. 

So. Here is what we shall do to celebrate ReLent:

1. We will take the next 23 days — until the end of April — to celebrate ReLent. Yes, I know Lent is 40 days, but that is LENT. This is RELENT for the wildly busy, and we are not going to string this out. THIS IS OUR GIFT TO US. Twenty-three days. Can we build it? YES, WE CAN.

2. We shall answer three critical questions:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?

3. We will work in concert with Love to refill our souls. I mean – we will really LISTEN to Love loving us, and we will be open to receiving that.

You, of course, are invited to join me for ReLent. I’m going to answer those three questions below, and I’d love it — if you’d like to participate with me — if you’d answer them in the comments section as an encouragement to our ReLent group and so we can do this together. Here goes:

  • What is actually relevant to you and what drives you? Spreading Love. Sending Hope. Helping my fellow momrades and dad-rads and rad people of every variety know we are not alone in the dark and that dawn is coming. Already on its way. 
  • What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant? I clam up sometimes, and I’ve been in a season of clamming, uncertain my words are compelling or even relevant. I worry, still, even at this stage of my life when I’ve learned to love much about myself, about being Too Much. Too Loud. Too Big. Too Irreverent. Too Jesusy. Too ME. And so I sit quietly in this space because I’m afraid of blabbing too much and being irrelevant and laughable. 
  • What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days? I choose to release worries about being Too Me. So I will put my butt in my chair and I will write to you every day for 23 days. Some of it will be drivel, and I will publish it anyway, believing that this discipline — this ReLenting to be fully who Love made me to be — isn’t just OK or Enough… it’s where Love calls me. 

So, friends, what do you say?

ReLent with me?

Who’s in?

Sending love… always, always,

Signature

 

 

 

P.S. Just to be clear, ReLent is also for those of you who already Lented and want a do-over or a repeat, because we are a radically open community here, and we welcome everyone, even you overachievers who do things on time and are Pinteresty and stuff. Love to you, TOO.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
29 comments
  1. […] made writing to you a priority ever day for ReLent – you know; ReLent, which is “Lent Again” for those of us who forgot to do it […]

  2. […] I wrote to you a few days ago about ReLent, which, OBVIOUSLY, means “to Lent again,” or, in other words, is Lent for those of us who missed it the first time.  […]

  3. […] recently posted about ReLent, which is a do over of lent for those who missed it the first time around this year, but still want […]

  4. I’m a person who needs thirdsies, since I tried to start this one and already failed before I could even get my thoughts properly in order. So I relent feeling angry at myself for not starting ReLent properly on time and failing miserably the first day.

    Kindness is the most relevant thing to me. Sharing love and kindness and patience and grace and positivity.

    While there are times that I am SO good at this, there are other times my stress level or my anxiety or my insecurities chase away the closest things to my heart and fill my heart with anger and fear and unworthiness instead. Then I get defensive and angry– mostly at myself– for not being able to be All The Things for All The People in my life. And my temper flares, and my words get snappy, and my writing stops.

    I will practice releasing my breath, often repeatedly, before I react. And try to give the grace I can so easily give to others, to myself. I will write every day, just like you, Beth, in hopes that that I can write through the feelings of Not Enough just like I am breathing through them, in hopes of one day diminishing their hold on me.

    Thank you for doing this. I liked Lenting with you last year, and am grateful that you enacted ReLent so I can join you again.

  5. Ok, I love this idea. Not sure of my answers yet, have to ruminate on that for awhile. But at this moment, I just want to say that I am so looking forward to a blog post from you each day for the rest of the month. Normally I wait for awhile before I check in on your site, that way there is always a lovely nugget of encouragement, humor, and wisdom waiting there for me. Thanks for all you share and do.

    P.S.
    Not possible for you to be “Too Me”. You are fabulous.

  6. After all of that, all I have to say is thanks a WHOLE LOT for putting the Bob the Builder song in my head. How could you? It’s never going to leave…

  7. Well, I read this a day late, even though I saw it yesterday so I’m already beginning well…. You know, doing things late. To be honest, I don’t know how to answer what drives me, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse to not participate. I do know that I have pain everyday, and lately have been a ball of worry, over A LOT. But when I do my exercises I have so much less pain and am better to my family. But…. I find so many excuse not to take care of myself. So…. I will do my exercises everyday until the end of the month, and use that time to intentionally put my worries aside for that time. And….. REALLY REALLY REALLY look forward to hearing from you so often!!!!! Yaaaaayyyy!!!!!! <3

  8. I have to do some thinking before I answer the questions. I missed Lent too. I mean, I knew it was there and I had a plan but I failed at it. Then I consciously accepted the failing and gave up on it. That’s bad. But I wanted to comment to say you are great. There is nothing wrong with how loud, big, irreverent or Jesusy you are. You are seriously the best you I read. You are the you I would pick for sharing a snack with, not a fake you. The youer you. That’s the good one.

  9. Can I just say how incredibly relieved I was that when I got to your 1.2.3. that you weren’t really giving up coffee. Because. I. just. can’t. I so relate to being behind on all the things, because I am feeling guilty sitting on my butt reading this blog because I should be packing for our camping trip this weekend, and I should have emailed the COMM-rad who lives in Gettysburg, since that’s one of the places we’re going, except that I can’t seem to locate ANY of our emails, and so I’ve lost all of my COME-UNITY now, and even though I quit my job in August so that I could get it all together and catch up on the stuff I’m behind on – that would be all the things – I’m still so behind. And I’ve been feeling so < lately. And thankful that I belong to part of the Christian world that doesn't "do" lent. Now I have to go dry sleeping bags and bake allergy free muffins to take. And go to the grocery store. And clean the cooler………….Prayers for your dad.

  10. What drives me? EVERYTHING! Everything either drives me crazy or drives me to distraction. I have gotten so lost in this that I have no idea what inspires (breathes life) into me. I love what Anke shared and especially what her church did for lent. The idea of not bullying myself is appealing and overwhelming. Because the first time I fail at it, I give myself something else to attack myself about. SO, I think I will try to become more alert to when I am bullying myself and then choose to stop. I love the idea of Re-Lent, the chance to start over. The dictionary defines relent as to “abandon or mitigate a harsh intention or cruel treatment.” This so goes with the idea of not bullying ourselves and of giving ourselves a second chance (and 3rd or more if needed. Re-Lent is grace! And maybe when I show myself more grace, I will show it to others as well. And when there is more grace, maybe I will be able to hear what inspires me.

  11. I’m in. Of course, that’s assuming you are doing all the work,a nod I don’t have to do anything other than occasionally read,many even then I may drop out like I do with most things I commit to because of being busy, and lazy, and having other things to do like keep the children and my marriage alive. Oh, yeah, and the pets. And friendships. 😉 signed, a drop out artist.

  12. “Relent is Lent for procrastinators”– I love it! I am giving up swearing. I started yesterday. Only swore three times. Pretty damn good right?!?

    Dang it. I forgot.
    I am restarting Relent. Right now.
    No more swearing.

    I promise.
    I swear to God.
    Dang it.

    One more time.
    Here we go!

  13. Great idea, thank you for building this place for community! You ARE enough, just as you are, which is what makes you wonderful!

    i’m in for a do-over! And super excited to see posts every day for 23 days, woohoo!

  14. This year, for Lent, I gave up giving up stuff for Lent. It just wasn’t working for me this year. I really did try, but the first Friday I forgot my meatless lunch and was hungry so I ate what ever I could get and it had meat. I figured I’d do better next week. Next week came, friends birthday, we all went to a steakhouse. Have to have steak when at a steakhouse! I said frig it!
    So ReLent….I love the idea but will be keeping the meat!
    1. What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
    I want to mindfully and by choice be a parent. To choose to be present in the time I have with them, which is only half the time. Sounds like it should be easy but I miss them so much when they are not with me but then it only takes 5mins to be tired of them again. I want to do better, be better.
    2. What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
    Work pays the bills, it doesn’t fill my soul. I want to choose my kids. I want to allow their love in and fill me up. They try to every time, I need to start letting them.
    3. What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?
    Being closed off and distracted. IPad and games are not as important. I don’t need to stay late at work, the work will still be there tomorrow.

  15. Yey Beth for your re-Lent and giving up worrying about being Too Much!!!! Love you for this and being you.

    I’m in, I think! I really want to be in but for some of the reasons folk have mentioned already – busy not so much sleeping baby, work/church stress/exhaustion, I don’t feel like I’m even certain I can commit to anything for 2 days at the moment let alone 23.

    But I want to try. And since this place is all about a spirit of Grace, maybe that’s enough for now.

    What is actually relevant to you and what drives you?
    Such a good question – and one I’m working on in my life in general right now. Not sure I can answer it here but will be good to think about it during these days as Anke says.
    And one of the things I’m trying to be brave about is writing. Somehow. Somewhere, for others to read maybe.

    What entangles you or distracts you from what’s relevant?
    Facebook. The state of my house. Difficult relationships at church.

    What is one entanglement you will release — for 23 days?
    I think I will try to release facebook – in Lent before I have given up looking apart from on Sundays and this year I didn’t because there is a group that I joined that communicate via FB but I think I can do that somehow – just one minute a day to check those messages, literally, something like that. It’s hard to not be totalitarian with myself and say that doesn’t count then – but it’s partly that I’m just not good at disciplining myself that way, but facebook drains me rather than energises me and so maybe “kind discipline” is the way forward. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing to count, right?!

    “I clam up sometimes, and I’ve been in a season of clamming, uncertain my words are compelling or even relevant.” Your words are so encouraging, well done for fighting those lying demons that suggest they’re not.. why is it easier to see these things for others than ourselves??! Big virtual hug.

  16. I’m IN! Great idea Beth, just what this weary mama needed this morning. It’s never too late. Mercies are new. Thanks!

  17. I have lented for many years but gave up on it two years ago. I must admit that I did, because it made me angry. I had the feeling that Lent gave me the impression of never being ok during the rest of the year. And that I had to make up for it. And then I became stubborn, like: who is telling me that I am not ok? I am so fed up with obviously never meeting anybody´s expectations ( and not at all my own…) I assume I have a kind of ongoing mid-life crisis.

    Anyway – I am at a turning point in my life right now. Somehow all the “construction sites” of my life seem to be calling out to me at once. And I struggle and I am confused. I cannot even answer the first of your questions, Beth: “What drives you?” I honestly have no idea. And maybe that is the problem. I am not driven by any idea or vision. I am only driven by necessities.
    So, I will take this idea of ReLenting (which is beautiful!) and I will do two things: first, I will take the original idea of the Lenting my Lutheran church came up with this year, which was simply: 40 days of not bullying yourself. For 23 days I will not blame myself, not feel not good enough, not beautiful enough, I will try to BE ENOUGH. ( You have no idea about the challenge I am facing…)The second thing I will do: I will figure out what drives me, what inspires me and I am curious about the result.

  18. My original lent “giving up” was I’m pregnant! I’m giving up all the good stuff! And then I lost the baby and the season of rebirth didn’t quite mean what I wanted it to any more. So thank you thank you for the idea of a redo. I wanted a solemn, beautiful Easter and we didn’t even go to services because I’m still not in the mood yet. I’m not sure what to do still but thanks for reminding me I can have the grace to give the whole lent thing another try, to let Love refill my soul.

    1. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I know there is no recovering. But you will pick up the pieces at one point and put them back together again and you will be you again and it will be your life but with some scars. I am sending you love and strength and courage.

    2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve had 3. It’s not easy. Keep following this blog. Keep reading. I turn to lots of Beth’s old posts when I’m feeling at the bottom of the pit.

  19. What a delicious idea! I cannot express how good it feels to know that someone out there lives and thinks like I do! So here I go.
    1. I am driven by the desire to do the right thing. To love my God and 5 kids and husband the way I was created to! I want joy.
    2. What gets in my way…. everything! We had 5 kids in (wait for it) 6 years and during those 6 years we also moved across the country twice. Math hurts. There’s never enough time to get anything done. I drown in the sea of ‘should have’ daily.
    3. I am going to spend 5 minutes staring at the sky. To remember there is Someone and something bigger than this daily druge. To remember that there is beauty above my smallness and this… well, just this. To remember that moments are worth taking. I am very nervous about these 5 minutes. Lifting my eyes is so hard these days. I’m cheering for you, Beth! We can do it!

  20. I have never done Lent, and I was so crabby this Easter I actually left church during the sermon. I knew my heart was in a very bad place. I love the questions and I really thought about them.
    1. What is relevant to me and drives me? That my children know God and show kindness and love. That I know God and others see Jesus in me.
    2. What entangles or distracts me from what is relevant? Newspaper in the morning, tv time in the evening. Computer during the day. and many health issues that cause fatigue and forgetfulness.
    3. What is one entanglement I will release for 23 days? I am giving up the newspaper in the morning and giving that time to God. We will see what follows!
    Thanks Beth! See you in May!!!

  21. I’m a new reader of your blog, I’ve already Lented, my kids are long grown up, and I’m now looking after parents…..and I find your words relevant, compelling and fun. I felt pretty good about doing Lent for the first time in years, but I could use a ReLent. I read all four gospels during Lent, but something’s calling me back to John – I think it has something to do with loving my way thru a tough situation. Thank you for inventing ReLent!! 🙂

    1. Reading the gospels instead of the local paper! Thanks for the starting point!

    2. Thanks, Beth, for helping me realize I could have a second chance at Lent, since I missed it the first time around. I really like the idea of reading through John, one chapter a day, for the rest of April. 21 chapters in 23 days means there’s a little space for a missed day or two, and grace.

      My answers:
      1) My goal, my purpose, the place where I feel most me and most free, is being a bridge between people from different backgrounds, and a bridge between God and people.
      2) I have let my insecurities about my job entangle me, I have let my work creep beyond the 20 hours a week that it should be, feeling like I need to check in, reply to e-mails, be available for meetings even on my ‘off’ days, so that I’m not seen as a ‘less than’ member of the (mostly full-time) team.
      3) I will release the need to spend every spare minute checking in at work, and instead spend some time checking in with God in the gospel of John.

  22. This is a beautiful idea. Also, I just stress-ate 3 dollar-menu cheeseburgers and 3/4 of a bag of Cadbury mini eggs. To tell the story behind that stress would take too long, so I’ll just say…I am so in! Thank you for the chance to start over again.

  23. Totally in! I missed Lent too. And was feeling much the same about it. So much so, that instead of doing something productive, I’ve been pouting about it. Not out loud, but Easter was just somehow less this year and I know something was missing and it ticked me off. It seemed that everything that we usually plan on and look forward to just wasn’t there, and then I somehow landed nursery duty on Easter on top of doing all the things and “Oh, would you bake a cake and bring it to the Son rise service?” Double grr, but somehow my cake and I made it, and froze, in the snow. And then the guilt sets in that I am totally missing the point, and yeah, but there should be a renewing that this season brings, and for me if fell flat. (Thank you for only going til the end of the month, BTW. We leave to celebrate our 15th anniversary on the 30th, and I don’t think my hubby who doesn’t go to church would even begin to humor me on that one!)

  24. My church does a monthly fast on the first sunday of the month, where we go for 24 hours without food and then donate what we would have spent on food (well, usually way more, but it gives even the poorest the means to donate something) to the local congregation, which then uses it to help families in need. Any money that isn’t used at the local level gets sent to areas around the world that need help. It’s kind of neat. (I should add, you’re highly encouraged NOT to fast if your pregnant or diabetic or something….I mean, let’s be reasonable here!!! And of course, if you miss fast sunday you can totally do a fast monday, or a fast tuesday….)Anyways, I kind of like it a little better than lent, personally, because it feels a little more purposeful to me.

  25. Sending love to all the ReLenters & to you Beth. I love reading what you write and you are never TOO YOU for me. 🙂

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