Forty Days of Wonder

By the Rev. Marisa Sifontes

I have a question for you. I wonder if you might be willing to engage in a spiritual discipline with me for a season. Now, that might sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be. We adopt disciplines in many areas of our life—some call them habits: brushing your teeth, going to the gym, listening to the same radio station when we’re in the car. Each serves a purpose in our lives. And over time, what begins as something new becomes second nature. Spiritual disciplines are like that, too. The more we engage with them, the more they become a part of who we are.
   Later this month, on February 22, Ash Wednesday will usher in the season of Lent once again. Some of us have well-established Lenten disciplines. Others of us may be thinking of going without coffee or chocolate (gasp). And some of us may be scratching their heads and wondering what Lent is. Lent is the forty days just prior to Easter. Historically, it is a time of penitence and heightened spiritual awareness, as we seek to recenter the role of God in our lives. It coincides with the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert; and the idea of us taking on a spiritual discipline is a way to mirror his time of fasting in the face of temptation.
   This year, as members of the St. John’s community, let’s take the forty days of Lent and use them as a time for wondering. Let’s spend intentional time with each other and develop a spiritual practice in community, based on the work of The Wondering Together Project ( The idea behind the project is simple—it fosters connection and allows us to process our days. Plus, the simple act of practicing, telling, and hearing stories helps us be more empathetic to those around us.
   While we’re all busy, this doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Pick your partner or group (families, friends, neighbors—it could be anyone). Decide when you’ll make time to wonder together for each of these forty days—at the dinner table, on a walk together, at bedtime. Is there a ritual or other marker to mark the beginning and/or the end of your time together? (Lighting a candle, turning off your phones, even having a short dance party.) 
   Then, settle into these five questions:
I wonder what part of today you liked the best?
I wonder what part of today was the most important part?
I wonder when you felt most alive today? (Or with young children — I wonder when you had the most energy today?)
I wonder what part of today you would have liked to leave out?
I wonder how you are feeling?
   Everyone takes a turn answering the first question before moving onto the next, although everyone has the right to pass.
   That’s it. Spiritual disciplines don’t have to be arduous, but if we take deliberate time most will find it worthwhile. And more importantly, we’ll all be joining together in attuning our hearts and minds to the season and each other.
   To make it easier, there will be “wondering cards” available to take home when we draw closer to Lent. These cards have the questions printed on them, so we can keep them close by. 
   I wonder what might happen if our community engages in a spiritual practice together. I wonder what happens when we make time to open our hearts and minds to listening. I hope you might join me so we can wonder together.

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