Cynthia Vacca Davis

Lent and the In-Between

Lent isn’t something I grew up with, and the majority of the plethora of churches I attended didn’t follow the liturgical calendar. And yet…I love the rhythms of the liturgical seasons and I have adopted lent, in particular, as part of my spiritual practice. So I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to Parity NYC’s Ashes Alive Lenten Devotional written by LGBTQI+ Christians and their friends from all over the world. I was asked to reflect on three scriptures:  Psalm 128; Ezekiel 36:22-32; John 7:53-8:11 and write a personal reflection that honors the LGBTQIA community while also capturing a sense of place–phew!  Here is an excerpt from my piece:

“I have been thinking a lot lately about in-between places–tight, nebulous, often overlooked spaces that no one seeks out but where so many of us end up: between jobs, between choices, between goodbye and hello. Between space can be difficult to appreciate, particularly when, like so many of my LGBTQIA+ siblings, to simply exist is often to be marginalized; omitted from the official text and scribbled into the in the margins, where there’s no ground to be lost without slipping out of the narrative entirely.

The Lenten season is, by definition, an in-between season.

Perhaps nowhere is one plunged more definitively into the 40-day stretch between Fat Tuesday and Easter Sunday than in New Orleans. When the clock strikes midnight on Mardi Gras, police sweep Bourbon Street into silence, signaling an end to the revelry and the beginning of a calm that washes over the city.  The difference between Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday is stark—something I found unsettling when I first experienced it.

Several years ago, I was browsing the Frenchman Street art market on Ash Wednesday when I mentioned the eerie silence to one of the artisans. “Oh, Ash Wednesday is my favorite day of the year,” she said. Factoring in the holidays, the city’s been at fever pitch for months, she noted. She welcomed the calm, the Factoring in the holidays, the city’s been at fever pitch for months, she noted. She welcomed the calm, the peace, the space for contemplation. What was depressing to me was a balm to her soul.

Perhaps this conversation was the initial seed that later germinated into an appreciation, yea, even a fascination with the mysterious terrain of the in-between. And, perhaps it is this growing understanding of the importance of “between” spaces that allows me to see between-ness as the driving theme in today’s scripture passages…..”

Click here to read the rest of the essay and the rest of the free Ashes Alive Lenten anthology on the Parity NYC website.

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