If you’ve been watching the Olympics as much as I have, this can sound like an incentive to beat out all the other contestants and put down your best Lent ever! But sometimes a little competition can creep in, even when it comes to our spiritual practice. It can feel good to pass on dessert when our other heathen friends are indulging themselves: “Oh no, I gave that up for Lent!” Sometimes we even compete with ourselves—“I’ve given up chocolate for 23 years and I’m NOT stopping now! In fact, maybe I’ll give up ALL sweets this year!” So dear Lenten warriors, we are well into Lent now, and I could ask for an accountability check---or I can suggest another option as we delve deeper into the forty days.
On Ash Wednesday I heard a wise priest whom I much admire say he’d done many Lents and had a new thought this year. What could he do for Lent that would BEST express who he is this year? I’m not sure of his exact words but instantly I knew MY answer. Instantly my soul resonated with his words; my soul knew what would be the practice that would best express where I am and what I need for THIS time in my spiritual/life journey. I keep thinking about that wise idea, and have passed it on to many people. What practice would best serve your spiritual learning now?
What practice would best help your spirit to grow, to imitate Jesus most deeply? Let’s try a couple scenarios. Let’s say one person has been too busy, or preoccupied, or cranky towards a family member. Maybe their soul would suggest a Lenten practice of kindness, time, and attentiveness towards that family member---lunch, dinner, or an honest heart-to-heart. Let’s say another person has been struggling with anxiety and fear. Maybe their soul would say---“giving up chocolate won’t really help with this. How about starting each day with 10 minutes in God’s calming presence—reading a reassuring psalm, or imagining being enfolded in the strong embrace of God’s tender love?”
Let’s say another person has a habit of being very critical, harsh and unforgiving in their expectations of themselves. Maybe their soul would say “how about a Lent of mercy---catching the unkind self-talk and instead, accepting the self with mercy?” Wouldn't’t this practice help them grow in learning to hear God's voice---which is always unconditional acceptance of them and every other person they know?
It’s not too late! We can find a practice that would best capture the essence of who we are and what we need to do this year to grow more like the One we follow.
What is your spirit’s response to making this your best Lent ever?