In the Wilderness
It’s a wilderness season.
I wonder that for the little girl I see on the elevator.
On that day, the calendar tells me it is March 1. But something is off.
When the elevator door opens on the 7th floor and the child steps in, I immediately notice the “Happy Birthday” tiara on her head.
I tell her happy birthday.
I’m not that person who initiates lengthy conversations with strangers in elevators (see this funny insurance commercial with Dr. Rick on the elevator). I’ll do the obligatory friendly southern chit-chat—How’s your day going? Can you believe it turned cold again?—but I don’t want to be too nosy or too annoying.
But with this girl in the elevator, it feels safe. So I keep going.
How old are you today? She smiles and says, “7.”
Her grandmother says, “But she hasn’t had 7 birthdays.”
A Season for Loving
I’m puzzled. She continues, “Her true birthday is February 29.”
Oh! I’ve often lamented for February 29 babies. Having to wait every 4 years for the actual date must feel torturous, especially when you’re young.
The Lenten season feels like a season of waiting, too. A season of wilderness wanderings as Jesus walked away from life and people as he knew them to prepare himself for life and people with God in a new role.
I can’t say I totally get it, of course. But I get it enough.
It’s a wilderness season for me, too.
For awhile I’ve not been able to spend proper time with some of the people I love either, not been able to live the role I want to play in their lives. It makes me sad beyond words.
Yet others I love are still still actively involved in my life.
I don’t want to take these people for granted.
This isn’t a season for only waiting on what’s to come. It’s also a season for loving who’s here now.
40 People of Lent
So I’ve declared this Lenten season as 40 People of Lent. For each of the 40 days, I am attempting to connect with 40 different people. Preferably in person, but if not face to face, at least via video or voice.
Some days it’s easy. Every Monday, for example, I may interact with 50 different people. Pick one. But other days I may see no one but my husband. (And I already counted him as my person on Day 3.)
On those days I have to be more intentional. I have to proactively seek out another human being to connect with. (I’ve settled for an email only once, so far.)
I’m halfway there. 20 people down, 20 more to go.
The Goodness of Kinship
So for Day 7 on March 1, I counted the February 29 birthday girl as my connection, albeit a loose one.
This little wilderness child will never know that she’s part of my spiritual practice, that I’m still remembering her. And the doll she was holding that looked like her.
I asked her about the doll, and she told me the doll’s name is Maddie, a birthday present. I assume Mama spent a few extra dollars for the custom-designed doll for this year’s gift. (Next year’s gift on actual Leap Day in 2024 will have to be a knockout.)
As I look into the eyes of 40 different human beings during Lent, I spot similarities between us as well.
Yes, we each have arms, legs, ears. But the similarities go deeper.
We each are a God-designed image that connects with the other, together creating a beautiful network of goodness in this wilderness adventure we’re living in.
So thank you birthday girl on Day 7. And Phyllis on Day 11. And Bridget on Day 14.
I can’t predict who will fill the back half of the 20 slots.
But I look forward to the kinship.
Do you know someone with a February 29 birthday? Did you choose something to give up, or add, during Lent? The 40 People of Lent fits nicely with my One Word this year, Human.
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