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  • Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Preparing for Lent

This past week we were lucky. On two different days, friends visited. We sat around the table, candles burning. Warm light. And warmer still were the affections of shared experiences, common concerns, and revelations.  Welcome and welcoming. Hospitality in the way of the Desert Mother and Fathers. Come and be at ease.


Stacks of unread books everywhere in the house. This one, Holy Solitude: Lenten Reflections with Saints, Hermits, Prophets, and Rebels by Heidi Haverkamp, I carry with me lately and now, beside me on my desk. It begins with quotes by Thomas Merton and Teresa of Avila, often my guides day to day. Again Silence and Solitude. Coming to stillness. I’ve never understood Lent. Or took seriously the opportunity to move with a dedicated devotion during this particular time. Again like the Desert Mothers and Fathers.  She writes, Solitude can be revolutionary. I know this to be true.

Haverkamp suggests that we prepare for Lent by preparing the home. Remove candles. Hang an austere wreath on your door.  Outside still hanging, our Christmas wreath of magnolia leaves and red ribbon. So remove and place the simple grapevine wreath with no decorations. I realize I placed the vine wreath on the door last year, intuitively.  The outward preparation.

I believe the inner preparations began with the visits this week. A reminder of the importance of connections with others. and then the move inward in appreciation and comfort that in our solitude we are not alone. We are listening.  Ash Wednesday in three days. I prepare with curiosity.

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