Last year was the first year I wholeheartedly participated in Lent. For memory’s sake, yours and mine both, I am supplying my reasons for doing so below:
I have never participated in lent. The church in my hometown either chose not to dwell on it, thus it has not remained intact in my memory; or, it was left out in favor of the joyful Easter celebration. With my advance in years, two things have come to dominate my life—balance and a love of tradition. With the joy of the resurrection, we must remember the narrative, complete with temptation, devotion, prayer, fasting, and suffering. We must anchor our hearts in the still unfolding story and become a character. Christ clothed in flesh came to be like us, and we are to be like him, clothed in glory and love. We must also be like the disciples too: dropping our former lives for something greater, following and drawing nearer, questioning and humbling ourselves with ignorant frustration, repenting for all the times we choose denial, accepting the race and training with perseverance. Lent is a sweet time of being both like Christ and the disciples, a time to embrace history, and to balance repentance with the hope that will be celebrated in six weeks time.
Curious as I often am, I spent time this morning to research Lent, as I have never taken much time, nor care, to do so. In an essay by novelist Ron Hansen from journeywithjesus.net (I know…so cheesy; ‘tis unfortunate), he writes:
Of all Christianity’s public ceremonies, Ash Wednesday is perhaps the most introspective at its core, and the root of that is in the first reading from the Book of Joel.
But it would be a mistake to think of Lent solely as forty days of hunger and denial. In one Eucharistic prayer in the Roman Missal we find these words addressed to God: “Each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed.” Renewal and growth are what Jesus sought for his disciples, and are fundamental to the teaching of all our readings for Ash Wednesday, and the Day of Atonement as well.
Contrary to the misunderstandings of my elementary friends of different denominations, Lent is not just about giving something up. It is not a contest to see who can claim the “Super Christian” title, or as my friend Antonia says, a second chance at New Year’s Resolutions, but a purposeful sacrifice, in order to seek joy in the renewal of heart and mind. That’s what Christians of old used to understand. From some online british christian site:
The weeks of Lent were once the time when new Christians, who were to be baptized on Easter Eve, were taught about the Christian faith and life. Those who had already been baptized thought again about the promises they had once made and promise to be true to them. Lent was a time for spring-cleaning lives, as well as homes.
While some of my collegiate peers still seem to misunderstand the true goal of Lent, I am learning, and I am finally participating with my brothers and sisters in this time of repentance and fasting to prepare myself for the sweet celebration of the resurrection. So, I choose to both give up something and take on something (my love of balance prevails). To align myself with the tradition of Lent, I choose to clean up my life (and my schedule) by giving up wasting time. Certainly, not every moment will be filled with purpose, but I will at least fill 30 minutes to an hour (maybe more!) with introspection, repentance, a remembrance of the promises I have made as a Christ follower through a post on this blog. I am choosing to do something public for the purpose of accountability, but also with the hope that this will create conversation and that you might enjoy it!
Again, (note my love of tradition), I will be giving up wasting time and adding on 40 days of blogging, for the sake of introspective preparation as Christ’s death & resurrection draw near. Reading through my posts from last year, I remembered the thoughts I had, the moments I shared, the way my life was being prepared for something. Since I have not blogged more than 5 times since Lent, allow me to catch you up. (I graduated, moved to a place of my own, began a job…but most importantly:) During Lent (of 2012), I began to date a gentleman named Byron. During this season of Lent, we prepare for our marriage. I certainly cannot credit our beginning and success to my Lent blogging, but I do believe that the Lord was not only preparing my heart for his resurrection, but also for the great display of Love that has been shown to me through Byron. My heart is still being worked on in great ways, as will always be the case.
I am thoroughly excited for this season. I have missed the serious devotion and dedication to sharing my thoughts with you all. I have enjoyed reading the words of others and delight in the ways they have work on my heart during the rest of the liturgical year, but to look back on my own words and to see and notice how my life has really changed in a year’s time is overwhelmingly encouraging. Cheers! to another year of reflection and response to the Lord.