Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tourist or resident? Taking Lent Seriously

Wednesday. In terms of Lent it's Day 22. This time last week I was walking around London, freezing, trying to make the most of the few short hours I had in one of the world's great cities.

I got a late start on the day because I was sick. So, when I emerged from Waterloo Station - on the south side of the River Thames, just across from the Houses of Parliament - I decided to ditch my "Underground" (Subway) pass and simply walk the city. I didn't want to waste any viewing time below the surface.

Consequently, rather than "do" anything, I spent the afternoon as a spectator. But, I've got to tell you, the streets of London are always great theater! One of the best vantage points was the sidewalk between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Right there, in one sweeping panorama, it's possible to see almost everything iconic about London in one view.

Big Ben. The House of Commons. Westminster Abbey. Downing Street. The River Thames. Whitehall. Nelson's column down Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square. I stood in one of London's busiest intersections, crowded with red London buses, distinctive taxi-cabs and Rolls-Royce limos ferrying dignitaries.

I walked up Whitehall, around Trafalgar Square and down to the Victoria Embankment. Then, after a satisfying meat-pie and ale lunch, I went back to Whitehall to view the changing of the guard. Next, a long hike up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, a stroll in St. James Park and a trek back across Westminster Bridge to The London Eye.

Okay, so what's the point, other than this post being a vehicle for showing some great photos of London (Go to my facebook page for a full set)? Well - I had a great day in The City (or "Town" as my parents used to say when I was young), but all I had time for was a quick look.

To really experience London you have to spend some real time, invest some serious resources, stay over night, get involved in the day-to-day activity of life in real time.

This time of the year - Lent, in the spiritual calendar - is typically experienced in drive-by or spectator fashion. Ash Wednesday... read a few devotions here and there... hang around church a lot during Holy Week, between Palm Sunday and Easter. But we seldom really move in. A few snapshots then we're off.

The challenge of spiritual practice is the practice part. So here's my invitation. Stick around; visit this blog every day if it helps; let what God is up to seep into your life; let the Spirit make a home in your heart.

Grace and Peace - DEREK

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