Julie’s Jar: Lent–A Springtime Festival

A watercolor drawing of a person with a serene expression, surrounded by flowers of various colors and sizes. The person's eyes are closed and they have shoulder-length black hair. The flowers are pink, purple, orange, and yellow; some are bunched tightly around the person, while other petals are carried away by an invisible wind.

Lent gets mired down in sackcloth and ashes. For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, Lent coincides with moving from Winter into Spring: New life beginning to bud out. For those living in the Southern Hemisphere, the transition is from Summer to Fall: Time of harvest. Both transitions are emblematic of the fecundity and abundance of God’s creation.

Historically, Lent was a period of learning for people who had decided to follow the Jesus way. There was prayer and penitence, leaving behind the old life for the new life in Christ. The penitence gets a lot of play still. Turning from what keeps us growing up in Christ is commendable work, but if that is all we do, we miss the new life God hopes for us to embrace and embody.

Giving up something for Lent was not a “Protestant” practice until more recently. I have noticed that people who are not Christian practice some sort of abstinence (giving up something) during Lent. For Christians, it is supposed to mirror the sacrifice of Jesus giving up his life.

The purpose of engaging in spiritual practices of any sort (fasting, prayer, contemplation, worship, service) is to draw us closer to God and assist our growing into the maturity of Christ. What supports you growing closer to God? Is there a prayer practice? Is there an activity?

What is something you do that helps you deeply connect with your sense of the Sacred? I invite you, this season of Lent, to do that. Give yourself the time to practice that one thing every day. Whether it’s 5 minutes, 15, or 50 minutes, do that one thing consistently throughout Lent.

If you are having trouble thinking of something, here are some suggestions.

  • Sitting quietly, remember a place that feels holy to you and let yourself remember being in that space, what makes it special, and when and how you experienced God in that space.
  • Gaze out a window or go outside and simply take in the nature that surrounds you.
  • Go for a walk and listen for the sounds, observe the sights, be present and remember that God is present to all of this and to you.
  • Listen intentionally to music that creates a connection with the holy, with God. Let yourself soak in it thoroughly.

Whatever you do, try to do it every day, and when you miss a day, tell yourself “That’s okay. I can begin again tomorrow.” The wisdom of St. Benedict reminds us that in the life with God, “Always, we begin again.”

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