Lent is a 40 day season (not including Sundays) of prayer and fasting, that begins on Ash Wednesday and goes to Easter Sunday. Lent is traditionally a time for reflection and deepening our spiritual lives as we journey together with Jesus, from His ministry on Earth to His state-sanctioned execution (on Good Friday) to the ultimate sign of liberation and resistance (Easter and His empty tomb).
Contrary to what you might hear, Lent is not about going on a crash diet or necessarily abstaining from food(s). A lot of people in our community regularly skip meals all year long because of limited household income. Others regularly skip leaving the house due to depression, or illness, or fear of authorities who are targeting immigrants.
When life is regularly fraught with nutritional or social deprivation, Lent is not the time to heighten our anxieties in the name of “piety,” but a time to seek out and connect with Jesus, who said, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” (The Gospel of John, chapter 10)
Here are some ideas offered by members of our Abundant Life community, The Good Neighbor Movement in Greensboro, and others reflecting on Lent as time of life and liberation:
- Add a contemplative practice to your day – Journaling, meditation/prayer, or a physical practice (walking, singing, stretching, focused breathing) help reconnect to with your body and breath and experience the goodness that comes with being part of Creation and walking the same path as God made Flesh.
- Non-food based abstentions – Are you on social media way more than feels good? Does the extra snooze (or 3) after your alarm goes off mean you’re usually rushing out the door in the morning? Our habits can intensify our feeling of scarcity when it comes to time and peace of mind. Restricting social media or changing our approach to sleep and rest may be allow us opportunities to experience the God in ourselves and neighbor in new ways.
- Choose Togetherness – All the way up to the end of his life on Earth, Jesus was in service to community. He taught. He healed. He said, “Do not be afraid.” He didn’t just feed folks, He ate with them and gave people a piece of Himself. If you’ve gotten in the habit of choosing to stay home, to flake on plans, or in your daily life and projects going it alone, why not try carving out space to eat, to dream, and to work together with others on something meaningful this season?
These are just some examples of life-giving Lenten practices for our yearning souls. However you approach this season, we pray that you discover abundance of life that stirs your spirit and awakens something new and lively in you.
Below are additional resources and invitations for Lent put together by our friends at The Good Neighbor Movement:
- On Eating Chocolate for Lent by Amy Laura Hall – https://juliapowersblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/hall-on-eating-chocolate-for-lent.pdf?fbclid=IwAR37HNAZoTZXU_tprx2SdiZGPbtbQH7KFJYcHUAiO7h443LQZmg658LLZug
- On Not Giving Up for Lent by Rhonda Mahwood Lee – https://faithandleadership.com/rhonda-mawhood-lee-not-giving-lent?fbclid=IwAR32Eay0BY_dTzOYrDPh4UoI8BxMYIW6IZslETGgu3dpyTDhQeKIMRWGoiE
- a handful of lenten thoughts (you can make space for what brings life) by rachel hester – http://thegenerouspine.com/2020/02/26/a-handful-of-lenten-thoughts-you-can-make-space-for-what-brings-life/?fbclid=IwAR07ItLwZs1SzS18rd3RfD9X0U3pnlJED2vxS6CT2lADngyoO_0lyNDDS9A
- A Not-So-Radical Proposal for Your Lenten Season: Do Nothing by Jake Braithwaite, SJ – https://thejesuitpost.org/2020/02/a-not-so-radical-proposal-for-your-lenten-season-do-nothing/?fbclid=IwAR1WiXZheymcM-9vCDTIYpbmmIR8msWnPrLV0UDm6R7O14y4F0otBS0uiJE