A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent Sarah Parsons

Cities across the world celebrate the day before with colorful parades and over-the-top parties. Then Wednesday arrives . . . Sigh. Lent has begun.

You hear about devout friends giving up seemingly innocent things in life (like chocolate) or stressing out to live a more perfect life during six grueling weeks — for reasons you don’t completely understand. Sermons about penitence are preached, and guilt soaks the congregation.

Sound like a good time?! It’s time to rethink Lent.

Or at least see it for the positive opportunity it offers. It’s spring cleaning for the soul! Lent offers you time to pause, consider, and renew your relationship with God — an altogether hopeful (not dreary) experience.

“To arrive at newness of life, we first name parts of our lives that are shrouded in darkness,” writes Parsons. “To put it very dramatically, . . . your first order of business is to break your heart for God. We walk through some muck so that we can leave it behind and find Easter joy beyond. . . . With God’s help we will clear the darkness away and begin to experience greater joy and newness of life.”

Sure, there’s work to be done during Lent, but it’s the gentle, gradual work of opening one’s heart and mind to grace. A Clearing Season will move you week by week from “wilderness to holy ground,” using a personal tone that will stir and challenge personal reflection.

Parsons includes exercises for small groups, as well as questions at the end of each chapter for individual reflection. Also included is an appendix of spiritual practices for Lent you may not have considered before.

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  • Finally, a Lenten study that avoids a heavy-handed, legalistic approach! A Clearing Season isn't a cookie-cutter guide for perfect Christians but a grace-filled tool for exploring one's imperfections. Sarah Parsons invites readers to look within and develop an approach to the Lenten season that's authentic, fresh, and relevant. The reflection questions, group exercises, and appendix of suggested Lenten practices make this book a great resource for groups wanting to journey through Lent together or individuals seeking deeper experience and growth.

    —Bill Lizor, Director, Young Adult and Single Adult Ministries, General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church
  • Every year I approach Lent with the same feeling — dread. I know I'm going to attempt to avoid something I enjoy for reasons I'm not completely sure of and fail to make it through 40 days. But after reading A Clearing Season, Lent seems more doable and more meaningful. It make the season more personal and more honest to the "everyday" seeker. Who knew it was okay to start small and to suffer setbacks? Sarah Parsons' writing guides and encourages us to truly find God in life's chaos and to use Lent as a time to clear a path to a deeper faith. Simply put, this book is good!

    —Brandon Dyce, Graduate Student, DePaul University
  • In A Clearing Season, Sarah Parsons masterfully illustrates a way to invite God into our quiet space so that we can fully experience the Lenten season. By giving ourselves permission to "make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isa. 43:19), we become freer and more willing to explore areas where we may not be satisfied. The weekly readings in this book gently nudge us to live through the temptations and "wild beasts" we experience during the forty days of Lent — a clearing season. If you want to release the need to control your surroundings, see yourself as you truly are, or learn to accept the gift of quietness that the Lenten season may bring, A Clearing Season is a must read.

    —Trenay Perry Bynum, Author of Triumph! The Beautiful Face of Courage, Founder and director, Figures of Nashville, Inc.