I am still gnawing away on this whole idea of Lenten disciplines. I finished the Chapter on "Submission" in Celebration of Discipline before church this morning. That was a discipline in itself. Just the title was enough to engender hyperventilating. But he does a good job with it. As I read I could almost hear his, or perhaps the Spirit's calming voice saying, "Yes that's right, just breathe, it's ok, you don't have to do anything now, you are only reading about it." One of the things that Foster said that I found comforting was this: "Jesus calls us to self-denial without self-hatred. Self-denial is simply coming to understand that we do not have to have our own way. Our happiness is not dependent upon getting what we want....Self-denial is not the same thing as self-contempt. Self-contempt claims that we have no worth, and even if we do have worth we should reject it. Self-denial claims that we do have worth and shows us how to realize it.... self-denial means the freedom to give way to others. It means to hold others' interests above our interests."(p.114) This is clearly different from what Foster refers to as the "mutilated" teachings about submission that I learned in my earlier religious teachings. It is partly those earlier teachings that trip my trigger when I think about this whole idea of submission. And it is partly my own will that trips me. I don't like to think about that part as much. But it is there. My first yoga teacher shocked me in about my fifth or sixth week as her student when she told me that my greatest struggle in yoga would be to finally come to peace with the fact that unlike most things in my life, yoga was one thing that I would not be able to succeed at by the efforts of my "prodigious will." That was the first time anyone had ever used that phrase, or accused me of having any sort of will at all, but it sat so true, I knew she was right. Last Lent, I learned some interesting things about that will as a grace-filled gift of Lenten practice. Perhaps it is time for another round.
Another book that calls to me is Brennan Manning's Ruthless Trust. I've lost track of where I heard about it, but I think it was on someone's blog. It is all about trust in God. Complete and total and utter radical trust. The kind of trust that is the perfect companion to submission, if this is indeed a discipline I choose. Submit and trust. Manning says: "In first century Palestine the question dominating religious discussion was, 'How do we hasten the advent of the kingdom of God?' Jesus proposed a single way: the way of trust. He never asked his disciples to trust in God. Rather He demanded of them bluntly, "Trust in God and trust in me" (John 14:1)." (p.5)
There are things stirring. Things to be prayed about, thought about, decided and discerned. Things that will affect my life and lives that intersect with mine. My intention is to use this time of Lent to be very prayerful and deliberate about those things. Not that I think that a mere forty days will be enough time to resolve them....but it's a good time to start....and maybe submission and trust is as good a place to start as any.