We are trained at an early age to observe Monday as the first day of the week. School and emploment “start” on Monday and we target the “end” of the week as a time of rest. Our lives then have rhythms that follow work patterns. But we have different ways of seeing time, if we pay attention.
For those who follow here, I took up running a little over one year ago with moderate success. I’m still running so it was successful. Every running app or training schedule I encountered followed the work calendar model. Monday begins the week and Sunday ends the week. Sunday, however, is the beginning of the week, as it still is in most of the world that follows Saturday as sabbath. The American form of Christianity that I was born into did not teach me that Sunday was the beginning of the week, so I have been playing catch up ever since. The biblical account in Genesis where we get a notion of days and times as sacred rhythms suggests that the first day does not begin with light but with darkness. I have to remind myself that the religious tradition I follow has been co-opted by larger forces of society so that Christianity really challenges us to fight against the marking of days as times of work and productivity. Lent is one of those ways.
On the first day of Lent 2018, as it is every year, we begin on a Thursday. This marking of time might not mean much, but it calls us to a notion that time passes differently—indeed the entire church calendar is a reminder to this fact—than our work lives. This first day of Lent in Macon, GA greeted us to grey skies and the somberness of the winter season in Georgia, which has dead leaves still on the ground and trees looking like skeletons across the sky. Even if you stop to observe Lent, the pressures of work and life demand your attention. It is rhythm competition that we have to pay attention to. We must do our jobs no matter how much we might want to “get off the grid,” but we do not have to be defined by that rhythm. Lent is a reminder every year to think about life in different time.