This morning I read a great quote from a woman named Sarah Parson about Lent. Lent is a religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian religions that last 40 days and ends on Easter Sunday. Here is the quote:
LENT LASTS FORTY DAYS, a long time, because we need a good stretch of time to step back and be neither here nor there. We need plenty of time to drop our old ways of doing things and live in-between, not yet knowing what the new ways of doing things will be. Living in-between can be scary. But taking the full forty days is important; not to do so would be like denying ourselves a spiritual adventure, the gift of in-between time.
– Sarah Parsons
A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent
I’m not a Christian, but I love the idea she is expressing. I have a lot of experience with being in the in-between spaces she talks about, but rarely by choice. I really like the idea of choosing to spend an allotted amount of time doing spiritual groundwork before launching into a new challenge in life. Maybe instead of deciding to launch into a new diet, or change jobs, or any other intentional life change it might be a good idea to spend time in contemplation and review, growing closer to my higher power and growing in understanding before I begin to take action on making a change. It seems like I might have a better chance of succeeding if I approach things in this manner. In fact, I have a huge piece of firsthand experience that this approach works.
Going to treatment was the first intentional decision I made on what turned out to be a spiritual journey. I got to spend 30 days outside of time, in a safe environment with spiritual teachers all around me. And as much as I wanted to leave that old life behind, facing an unknown new life was still scary. Without the help of those around me and an organized plan of action I don’t know if I could have made the changes necessary to find a new life.
This process has continues throughout the past 17+ years, although most of the time not exactly by choice. Everyone has heard the old saying “When one door closes another opens.” What they forget to include is that sometimes it can be days or weeks or even years between the first door closing and the next one opening itself to you. One era ends and then…nothing. Stuck between rooms. Learning to recognize this as its happening can be crucial, and it’s the time when a regular, daily spiritual practice can become invaluable.
Oftentimes I find myself in a hurry to get on to the next thing, even if I don’t know what it is. I constantly have to pause and remind myself that if I don’t know what to do it is usually because it’s not time to do anything yet. I can embrace the in-between time to examine my discomfort around just being where I am. I can spend time in prayer and meditation seeking to find an intuitive thought about how to proceed, and I can do my best to be of service to those around me while I wait for the answers. I can work to stay present in the moment because the best way to prepare for any moment in the future is to be fully conscious in the present.
Being in-between is necessary…uncomfortable, but necessary. The truth always reveals itself. The door always opens. Taking this time and staying active in a daily spiritual practice will allow me to see the right door when it opens, and it will give me the courage to step through into a new spiritual adventure.