When I first encountered the Episcopal church, I was fascinated by the structures and rituals by which ordinary people could order their lives. Brought up on the fringes of the Kirk, I had never even seen anyone kneel to pray in church - in fact, it was rare for anyone other than the minister to utter a word during the service unless in singing hymns. So when I became an active Episcopalian, I welcomed Lent as another opportunity to express my commitment - but to what? To God? Or to the church I had recently found?
Now I find I don't think about Lent in quite the same way. What I have done is spend time considering the relationship between the church and its teaching and the God we profess. And I find myself drawn to the idea that the whole structure has grown out of the difficulty of containing and expressing something too big for any of us to cope with. Perhaps all we can do, in Lent or at any other time, is stand in wonder and stop pretending we know anything.
But you don't make converts that way, do you?