The Season of Lent begins on Valentine’s Day, February 14th this year. This is rather humorous since the tradition of Lent has a fasting component and often involves giving up things like desserts, sweets, and chocolate! I agree with Father Ed Hays that giving up chocolate just makes people angry and mean and really doesn’t bring anyone closer to Jesus. It was Father Hays who introduced me to the concept of using the 40 days of Lent to fall more in love with Jesus rather than the sack cloth and ashes stereotype or tradition of Lent.
What if we chose to spend the 40 days of Lent falling more in love with Jesus? What would that look like?
When we fall in love with someone we often get a little crazy and we do things to show just how much we love the other person. My first real boy friend was in 8th grade. I went to an all girls school in town and he went to the all boys school. We met at church and were in youth group together. I was smitten! And since I am an artist, I expressed my love for him with a hand crafted Valentine. I took a piece of cardboard and collaged it with words and phrases and pictures cut out of magazines glued on to a piece of card board. I even used my mom’s “pinking shears” to cut out the heart and give it a special edging. And since i was too young to drive, I had to get my dad to drive me across town to the boy’s house to give him this created treasure! I’m not sure he really appreciated the time and effort but for me it was an act of love to create something special. My husband expresses his love to me through amazing meals and fun cards. I have friends who write songs for one another. I know friends who go on hikes together and even take retreats to plan together and reflect on their lives. There are just as many ways to express love to someone as there are people!
Consider how you express love and how you experience love yourself. How have you shown someone you loved them in the past? How do you show some one you love them now? How do you show love to your friends? Your family? Your co workers or teammates? How do you like to experience love? Is it through Time, Gifts, Conversation, Creativity? Something else? Take some time to think about this and make a list.
Years ago, I created a sacred space prayer experience based off Father Ed Hay’s book The Lenten Hobo Honeymoon. Father Hays and I are kindred spirits when it comes to experiencing God and practicing our faith in touchable, tangible, symbolic ways. This book is still my all time favorite Lenten devotional. After hosting this Sacred Space for my church and youth group, I was invited to do something at the near by convent. Since it was still Lent, I didn’t create anything new, I just set up the same Sacred Space and sent nuns on a honeymoon with Jesus!
What if we saw Lent as a honeymoon with Jesus? How could this help you focus your time and Lenten practices?
Like in any relationship, you have to start small. Usually you date awhile before you get married and go on a honeymoon. So since we have a couple of weeks before Valentines Day and the beginning of Lent, let’s start!
Plan a date with Jesus. What do you do? Do you go out for a walk? Do you get out in nature? Do you go out and have coffee and take your journal? Could you find some old magazines and create a collage Valentine with words and phrases and pictures expressing your love to Jesus? or cook dinner for someone who is lonely? Bake some cookies for the neighbors or take flowers to friend who is sick? What will your date with Jesus look like? I’d love to hear about it! Mine definitely will involve chocolate!