Its time to get ready for Lent. It begins with the celebration of Ash Wednesday on March 1st and ends with Maundy Thursday April 13th. Last week I updated all our Lent, Holy Week and Easter resource lists, reread some of my posts from previous Lenten celebrations and started to think about what I want to do for Lent this year.
Lent is often seen as a season of giving up. It is easy to focus on the negative rather than the positive during this season. I am convinced however that giving up is not meant to be an exercise in self denial, rather it is about transformation. We give up so that something new can be birthed in us.
In The Book of Joy, written by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu in conjunction with Douglas Abrams it says: the three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous. (The Book of Joy 49) I think this is a great place for us to start as we shape our Lenten practices. How can we focus on the positive and not the negative? How do we express gratitude? and how does that overflow in kind and generous actions?
What would you like to give birth to?
So this year I challenge you to start Lent early:
1. Set aside time during the month of February to reflect on what new, positive things you want to see birthed in you by Easter this year.
2. Make a list of up to six places or attitudes you would like to see transformed this year – one for each week of Lent and one for Holy week. If you feel six is too overwhelming choose one, two or three areas of transformation.
My list is:
Fear into love
Despair into hope
Mourning into joy
Hate into compassion
Oppression into justice
Death into life.
2. Get or make yourself a Lenten journal to record your journey over these weeks. I am planning to make one this year as part of my preLenten reflection and focusing time and will share about the process next week. I will probably also put together another Lenten garden to remind me of my commitments throughout the week.
3. Shape a Lenten practice that provides one activity each day to move you forward in your journey towards wholeness.
4. Create a schedule for your reflection time during Lent. I am really finding that the practice of tracking what I do every day is very helpful in providing work/life balance and not allowing myself to become overloaded. Make sure your schedule incorporates all the daily and weekly commitments you already have. How does it make you feel – excited, inspired, overwhelmed?
A Lenten Challenge – Will You Join Me?
Here is the process that I am planning for the season. It was inspired by my recent post A Glimpse of Hope. It might change as I continue to reflect, create my journal and bring together the other items I need to see it happen but I feel it is a good starting point.
- Sunday – reflect on my words for the week. Linger in silence, savouring the word and listening for a sense of God’s presence in this word.
- Monday – do a word search on Biblegateway.com on what I want to see birthed – love, hope, joy, compassion, justice, life. Write down the descriptive words and phrases that most resonate with me.
- Tuesday – reread the words and phrases I have written down. Linger once more in the silence and allow God to speak to me about this word. What images, prayers or poetry bubble up from your heart? Start to shape a picture in images or words, a prayer of a poem from these words.
- Wednesday – Reread what I wrote on Tuesday, sit once more in the presence of God and allow the prayer/poem/image to more fully take shape.
- Thursday – Time to take action. Love, hope, joy, compassion, justice, life are not just feelings they are actions. What is one way today I can be more loving, hope-filling, joy providing, compassion showing, justice bringing, life giving to those who live in our household?
- Friday – Time to take action in my community. What is one way today I can be more loving, hope-filling, joy providing, compassion showing, justice bringing, life giving to those who live in in my neighbourhood?
- Saturday – Time to take action in our world. What is one way today I can be more loving, hope-filling, joy providing, compassion showing, justice bringing, life giving to those who live in our global community?
Create Your Own Unique Process
This is not about following a process that I have put together. The rebirthing of God’s presence within us comes not primarily from the instructions of others but from our own unveiling of that presence already hidden deep within us. So as you put your own Lenten process together consider some of this very good advice I have received from my life coach Myrna Hill:
- Follow your heart. Create a process that is unique for you, uses your God inspired talents and reflects where you are at in your faith journey.
- Have some fun. Create an enjoyable process that inspires you each day with a desire to draw close to God. Plan some fun things to do in relationship to your themes – colouring, doodling, gardening, walking labyrinths, playing with your kids may be some of the ways that you stir your creativity and inspire yourself to move into a more intimate place with God and out into the world that God loves.
- Take away the pressure of performance. This is not about who can be the most transformed or do the most good deeds during Lent. It is about allowing God to move us at God’s pace into newness and wholeness.
- Let your “shoulds” become “coulds”. So many of us live with the guilt of “I should have done this…” and lay unnecessary burdens on ourselves. In the process we often miss the sense of satisfaction in what we did do. “I am grateful I could do…. “
What is your response?
Will you join me on this journey towards the rebirthing of Easter? Prayerfully consider ways in which God would like to see you transformed during this season. Take time to develop your own process. Allow God to change you. And please share your journey with us – either as a comment here, in our Facebook group, on instagram, or on twitter.
Watch the video below and use it as a focus to consider Why do you need lent this year?