A little over a year ago, my husband had a career change and left the ministry for good and is now working at a university, thoroughly thriving in his new job.
Not only did the last year bring about a career, and consequent life-change in terms of my husband's vocation, it also was one that tested the grit of my faith through my family's health crisis. Both events combined, churned up the soil in my soul and have caused me to dig deep within myself and rediscover what I truly believe; how I view church, religion and all that it encompasses for me.
Who Is Lent For?
Next week, March 5th, begins the season of Lent--a 40-day period of religious observance for many practicing Christians. Believe it or not, I have never practiced Lent. No church I ever attended placed much emphasis on this occasion.
For many, Lent is simply a time where one gives up something for 40 days. I've known people who don't attend church or believe anything in particular, but who will still be giving up sugar, chocolate, or pop for the Lent season. I think their intentions are more in hopes of self-improvement, but it's interesting how the practice, if not the purpose, has permeated the culture.
For the more spiritually minded, Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, contemplation, reflection, and yes, sacrifice. As far as I know, the Bible doesn't even directly mention Lent. Rather, it's a practice of only a select few denominations within the Christian religion and an attempt to imitate and remember Christ's 40-days of fasting and prayer in the desert prior to his death.
For those who don't follow a belief system or whose faith and beliefs lie elsewhere than Christianity, Lent can can also be a time of, as one site I looked at called it, "spring cleaning"-- a period of cleansing, rest, simplifying, sacrificing, creation, contemplation, forgiving, and giving.
The Lent Journey
I don't often wax religious on this blog, nor in life, actually. I make no apologies or defenses for what I believe and realize each of us must choose our own direction and allow our hearts to guide us accordingly. However, in my own quest to define and deepen my spirit, I'm going to take a 40-day journey through Lent, for the first time in my life.
What will this look like? Honestly, I'm not sure. In the continuum of scullery maid and mystic dreamer. I tend to vacillate between the two, sometimes content in focusing on the pragmatic tasks at hand, other times, losing myself in contemplation and dreaming. I'm hoping that with an intentional focus of the 40-days of Lent, I will reconcile the two a bit more-- allowing my dreamer out for prayer and play, while practicing the manifestations of my faith in the forms of self-denial, prayer, devotional reading, creation, forgiving, and giving.
No matter your beliefs or non-beliefs, I'd like to invite you to join me in this 40-day journey. It doesn't have to be rooted in faith-based beliefs, or it can be a deeply spiritual retreat, as I'm hoping it will be for me. Maybe you have been focused on tasks and work lately and desperately need a break. Maybe you've let the intentions and resolutions of the New Year fall to the wayside in the demands of everyday life. Maybe like me, you've had a rough year and need to regain your focus and energy. Or maybe you are also digging for a deeper spiritual connection. No matter your motivation, consider walking with me through the next 40 days, setting your own goals according to your heart and needs.
And A Give-Away!
To help motivate you and give you ideas for meditation, contemplation and growth, I'd like to buy you a book. After a lot of searching, with careful consideration that we all come to this from varying places, I've selected three options. To win a book, leave me a comment about your thoughts on practicing Lent or a time period for quiet and retreat from the world. I will select one commenter, at random (random.org) and, if chosen, you can decide which book you would like. I will send a paperback or Kindle version to those within the continental US or a Kindle gift, via email, for those elsewhere.
Give-away will close with comments left by the end of Sunday, March 2nd.
1. Wrapped In Stillness: A Personal Retreat Guide By Laurie Guest
2. Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures For Lent by Richard Rorh
3. Heart Steps by Julia Cameron
No matter the place you come from, we all need a time to remember we are more than earth-bound creatures running in a maze of tasks. Taking an intentional "time out" to nurture our spirits-- the birth place of our emotions, creativity, connection to nature and the world, and the dwelling place of the Divine-- is important to our complete growth. Join me for 40-days, beginning March 5th, on this journey. It's nice to travel together.