When I attended the Catholic Church as a child, I identified the Lenten season with sacrifice. What would I give up for the 40 days until Easter? It would be something like sodas or chocolate and I’m not sure that I ever completely gave something up the entire season. I was never taught why I needed to give up something I loved for what seemed like an eternity.
We were also supposed to give up meat on Friday’s during Lent and the church always had a fish fry. I was not a fan of fish and our family did not hold fast to the no meat rule. It was confusing because I knew there were rules, but our family didn’t observe the rules to the full extent of what many followed. I just played by the rules the best I could because that was what I was supposed to do.
As I got older and understood the reasons why the rules were in place, I realized that I didn’t agree with what the Catholic Church professed. And when I left the tradition, I gained a new perspective of Lent. Perhaps the most significant Lenten practice I have completed was not in the act of giving up, it was about adding something to my life.
One year I made a list of people who were on my heart. I sent a card to each person each day during Lent. I wanted them to know that I was thinking about them, that they were special to me, and that I was praying for them. There is something about a handwritten card that can make a person’s day and it warmed my heart to write each card.
This year I am asking my family to take part in a practice. I have a blessing jar on our kitchen table, and during the season of Lent I am asking that my family put in a slip of paper each day with something that has blessed them…something with which they give great thanks for that day. It’s a simple gesture, but my hope is that we will each stop for a moment, give thanks and honor the reason we are stopping…for our Creator.
Lent can be a season of renewal for our spirits. It’s not necessarily gloom and doom and sadness, it’s about how we perceive the world around us and how Christ has impacted our lives.
What can you do this season to enrich your spiritual life?
Today I Am Thankful For:
- new sweaters
- seat cushions