I’ve been considering what my Lenten focus, Lenten practice, is going to be for this year… and I’m still pondering.
Many of us feel like the entire past year has been a season of Lent… since we’ve given up time with friends and family and all the normal rhythms of life, thanks to the pandemic. We really don’t want the wilderness of Lent, we are truly ready for the joy and celebration of Resurrection and Easter.
Maybe you are just plain exhausted… and the thought of a Lenten Practice is just one more thing on a list that is already too long.
I said last week that maybe you just need to have REST be your practice this Lent.
I truly believe that our culture would be more kind and compassionate if we had more rest and more space for things that restore our souls.
What would it take for you to make REST your Lenten practice this year? Could you do this with your partner or your family? Or with your flatmates/roommates? Could you take an afternoon each week to just BE… or to take a nap or read books, or do a puzzle, leaving technology and screens behind so your mind gets a break? Could you plan a time to just rest with Jesus, allowing Jesus to hold all the stuff you are busy carrying around? How would you feel by Easter if REST were your weekly practice?
WRITE YOURSELF A PERMISSION SLIP to allow yourself to REST!
With so many people suffering due to the cold weather and due to the pandemic, fasting something for Lent feels a bit forced or useless. I’ve never been a good faster of food anyway, but I am considering what I might fast in order to draw closer to Jesus between now and Easter. I found this great poem/prayer that is helping me process fasting this Lenten Season.
The Fast Life
Fast from judging others;
Feast on Christ dwelling in them. Fast from fear of illness;
Feast on the healing power of God. Fast from words that pollute;
Feast on speech that purifies.
Fast from discontent;
Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism;
Feast on hope.
Fast from negatives;
Feast on encouragement.
Fast from bitterness;
Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern;
Feast on compassion.
Fast from suspicion;
Feast on truth.
Fast from gossip;
Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; Feast on prayer that sustains.
Fast from anxiety;
Feast on faith.
Any of these resonate with you?
Remember that Sundays are Feast days during Lent, so if you do decide to fast something, you don’t have to fast it on Sundays! My friend Professor Maggie Dawn, a theologian in the UK, feels like the entire last year has been a Lenten fast, so she is opting to focus on a saint everyday. She is posting her saint of the day on twitter and you can follow along!
How would you feel by Easter, if you chose to do something that filled your cup and drew you closer to Jesus?
Maybe art, or music, or even baking? Or walking in nature? All done with the intention of allowing these things to draw you closer to Jesus.
I realized that I needed more music in my life. We don’t have singing as a part of our thinplaceNASHVILLE practice (it’s hard to sing on Zoom anyway) and I love to sing! I discovered a new to me group called THE PORTER’S GATE and I’m listening to their music each day.
Could you find some new music, or find some old music you love that you haven’t listened to or sung in a long time and make this a part of your day?
We celebrated Shrove Tuesday this week with a virtual pancake gathering and this made me think of something I’d like to practice during this Lenten Season. I’ve wanted to bake cookies for my neighbors all through this crazy year, but haven’t taken the time to do it. I think that this baking never happened because I wanted to make cookies for everyone at once and didn’t see that I could do a few neighbors at a time! Too much perfectionism rather than fun! Baking for me is good therapy. It slows me down and brings me peace. What if baking is my Lenten Practice this year? What if I choose to bake a batch of cookies each week and deliver them to my neighbors? I don’t have to do it all at once! It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a prayer practice, praying for my neighbors as I bake, and then giving away the cookies to them. You could even do this as a family practice.
Even if you don’t like baking or don’t want this to be a part of your Lenten experience this year, PUT OUT A LARGE SPOON OR A SPATULA where you will see it everyday and consider what Jesus wants to mix into your life this Lent. What has God been mixing in you lately? What needs more stirring? What is Jesus stirring in you? What recipe is God making through you?
Let’s take time to actually consider how we can draw closer to Jesus/God between now and Easter. Even in the midst of a frozen February here in the States, and in Lock Down, and in the land of Covid, we can experience more of Jesus’s peace and presence. Jesus longs for us to just be with him and know that we are his beloved. He is holding us in the palm of his hand.