Today is the first day of Lent for 2014. It didn’t really get off to as good a start as I had hoped it would. We were up to almost 2am this morning with a very sick son, so we are all pretty tired this morning. That’s life and we just have to deal with it. Hopefully a couple of days rest will get him back to his normal self, just in time for March break.
People approach Lent in a variety of ways. Traditionally it is a time of giving up or fasting, denying yourself of something in order to focus more on God, but added to that more and more these days is the taking on of something new to help a person grow spiritually. I like to approach Lent with a combination of the two – giving up something and taking up something new or different.
A definition of Lent that resonates most with me comes from the introduction to Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter, which I have used in previous year for my daily readings during Lent. The editor shares the following definition:
First popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)
For my journey through Lent this year I have chosen to do the following:
- Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal;
- Be more deliberate in my food intake – although I am a vegetarian, I still eat too much junk-type food;
- Regularly pray the daily office;
- Share a daily thought on this blog – some days it may be brief, but I will at least endeavour to post something from my journey;
- Read two Christian ‘classics’ from my bookshelf – I’m thinking that the two I will try to read are Life Together (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and Orthodoxy (G.K. Chesterton), although this my change later.
My companion books for my journey this year are Engage: A Lenten Guide for Spiritual Growth (Kai Nilsen) and Sacred Space for Lent 2014 (Irish Jesuits). I also plan to read N.T. Wright’s The Challenge of Easter during the week leading up to Easter.
I’m hoping that all of this will help bring some more focus to my life. What, if anything, do you do during the time of Lent? What are your thoughts on this time of year? Please feel free to share any thoughts or ideas in the comments section.