By Lilly Lewin
The Lenten Season officially began with Ash Wednesday this week, but it’s certainly not too late to consider participating in the Lenten Journey this year. Consider where you’d like to be with Jesus by Easter. What could your relationship look like?
Lent is an opportunity to focus our hearts on Jesus and prepare for being a person of resurrection. Each year I remind my friends that we are living in grace, not performance, when it comes to our Lenten Practice. It’s about drawing closer to Jesus in the weeks before Easter, not about doing more things, or getting points from God. God loves each of us just as we are, regardless of whether we participate in Lent or not.
Some years, I feel like I really do prepare my heart and draw closer to Jesus. Other years, things happen and my practices are pushed to the wayside due to the events of life. And sometimes I really don’t feel like a person of resurrection til after Easter Sunday! I believe in baby steps and being creative in our Lenten practice.
What do the next 40 days look like in your life?
How can you imagine your journey between now and Easter Sunday?
As an Adventure
As a Wilderness Experience or camp out
As a Pilgrimage
As a Retreat
As a Fast
As a Honeymoon
What word resonates with your Lenten Practice this year?
Which one sparks your interest?
Each of these needs some thought and preparation. Each needs some supplies to help you on your journey. Maybe you need some partners in crime or traveling companions to go with you…who is this? Or who are they? Or maybe this is just a solo hike? Spend some time talking to Jesus about this. Lisa Cressman, of Backstory Preaching invites us to pray a labyrinth as a practice of asking Jesus about what our lenten practice might be this year. You can go physically walk and pray a labyrinth or use the one here as a finger labyrinth or outline it with a pen or pencil as you pray.
What could your Lenten Journey Look Like?
On an Adventure we need to be prepared for the unexpected. We might need to pack light and make sure we have a flashlight/torch and some extra socks and underwear. Or we might need to have our camera ready and watch for the next sign or unexpected highlight or spot of beauty. What makes an adventure special? Do you enjoy the thrill of the unknown? Do you need a map or just want to take a new way home? What would this Lent look like as an Adventure with Jesus?
Jesus was invited into the Wilderness by the Holy Spirit. What if the Holy Spirit is inviting you to the Wilderness this Lent? What do you need to be ready? The right shoes, a good sleeping bag, a great map or compass? A first aid kit? Does a camp-out with Jesus sound fun or scary? Would a hike in the wilderness bring you closer to Jesus or would you be worried about the snakes and the scorpions?
On Pilgrimage everything is a gift. Everything that happens along the way can be received as a gift from God, from the crying baby on the plane, to the missed train or bus, to the blisters on your feet. Usually pilgrims experience some pain and frustration on their journey, but they also are traveling to places of beauty and/or sacred places. What would a Lenten pilgrimage look like for you?
Maybe your Lenten Journey needs to be a retreat. A time for rest and restoration. Retreats often take us away from our normal routines and invite us into spaces of reflection, prayer and the outdoors. Retreats can be directed and involve learning or they might be silent and unplanned. What kind of retreat do you need this Lent?
A Fast…one of the three traditional pillars of Lent is fasting. Like I’ve shared before, fasting food doesn’t work well for me, but fasting busyness does. Fasting from political news is also on my list this year. Fasting from clutter, shopping, technology, social media all might be things to consider. Or fasting from lack of prayer or exercise! Or fasting from shame and self criticism and practicing receiving the gift of God’s unconditional love instead! I love Pope Francis’s list. And my friend Maggie Foote fasts from eating at chain restaurants and eats only a restaurants owned by minorities during Lent. Is there something you could use a break from this season? Something you could fast in order to draw you closer to Jesus?
A Lenten Honeymoon is one of my favorite ways to practice Lent. Honeymoons give us time to just BE with the one we love. We get to just enjoy each other. We get to rest after a lot of wedding planning and stress. There might be good food, and good scenery to go along with it too. How could you go on a Honeymoon with Jesus this year? What would that look like?
What questions are you asking in this season? We need to ask questions before we start any journey and any new season. Where is the Holy Spirit inviting you to go? What do you need to pack or unpack? What do you and I need to leave behind in order to go?
What burdens are you carrying that you need to let go of and give to God?
Use this heart outline to talk to Jesus about this.
You might draw or fill in your heart with words or doodles as you pray and ask Jesus about this season ahead.
What are the supplies that you need for your journey between now and Easter? There might be books, or a podcast, or a new journal. Do any of these words remind remind you of a book you’d like to read between now and Easter?
Wilderness Experience or camp out
Some books that are going on my journey with me this year are :
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
You are the Beloved Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living by Henri Nouwen
Postcards from Babylon by Brian Zahnd
I’d love to hear about your journey and the supplies you take with you!
Before you start, remember this is a season, a 40 day season…so it’s long not short. It’s not a race, it’s a journey, one step at a time. It’s a new beginning! A fresh start. When we when we make it to Holy Week, we can live in to the suffering and pain of the final week of the life of Jesus, but today, may we live and enjoy a GRACE-FILLED Lent and draw closer to Jesus between now and Easter Sunday!
©lillylewin and firstname.lastname@example.org