The revelry of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday rest behind us. I love the festivity of that celebration. But today is Ash Wednesday and a different feeling is in the air. Oh, some may nurse a hangover, which induces a quiet reflection of its own. But because it's Ash Wednesday, the curiouser and curiouser Alice in me has been thinking ...
Not being Catholic, I wasn't raised eliminating meat from my diet, eating Fish on Fridays or giving something up for the Lenten season. Many of my friends did. However, lately, my views have changed.
But ... since it's me ... they have taken a unique turn. (Not surprised, are ya?)
During Lent, the Christian message reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made for each of us. And we recall the 40 days of denial he experienced in the wilderness. Now ... and I know I may lose some of you here, I look at that 40 day desert trip as allegorical and then take it into my own reality. Meaning, it matters not to me whether Jesus literally walked around starving in the desert for 40 days. I get the idea and the lesson that passage in scripture teaches. Jesus did a lot of things for me ... made a lot of sacrifices to show love. And that ... not the literal definition of 40 days in the desert ... is what I bring to my Lenten Experience.
Here's what I see as the message: Make a sacrifice & Show some love.
The traditional Lenten challenge is to give something up that is important to you. Chocolate springs quickly to mind as the most popular denial. Candy ... that's a bit more extreme since not all candy is chocolate and by giving up chocolate only, you can secure a loophole.
You can give up Wine or Beer ... or Alcohol as a whole ... or more specifically, drinking before 5pm. Did that once. Come on ... am I the only person here who enjoys a drink before 5pm??? Be honest ... If you are a stay-at-home mom, look deep and tell me you didn't need/want/have a glass of wine at 4 or 4:30. Before noon ... that might be another story. But hey, to each his own.
I know someone who gave up Facebook. The current toxic aspect of this site might make that a healthy choice. Sometimes when I go there, I feel like I'm stalking my friends ... spying on them to find out what is new. A phone call would save me the trouble of scrolling thru pages of inane stuff. Give up Facebook and find a different way to connect with the significant circle in your life.
Anyway, you get the point. The spotlight is always on giving things up. Sacrifice. If you choose one and move forward with a 40-day Sacrifice, bravo. The choice is personal and optional from where I stand.
But ... here's what I want to throw out to you as a Lenten Challenge. Something new and unique. Whether or not you choose to give something up, what about initiating a Change. Doing Something Different. That's right. Enough about giving something up. What about making a choice to DO SOMETHING during Lent.
Perhaps it's writing a letter a day ... not an email or text or an instant message. A LETTER. You need to address, stamp and send it too. You'd be surprised what an impact that might make.
Perhaps it's trying a new recipe once a day. Or reading a new book a week -- maybe alternating fiction and nonfiction. Perhaps you make a craft project for a friend ... or make something for yourself using a pattern that challenges you. Perhaps you opt for something more spiritual ... a Bible Study or Yoga Challenge. Perhaps your health and spirit together might suggest 40 days at the gym or on a yoga mat. It might be a home-project that you need discipline to complete and this commitment does that for you.
Maybe, for you, that change could be mental ... a decision to behave differently when certain cues arise. An attitude adjustment.
Whatever it is, look at Lent as a time of transformation. In the traditional way, change occurred through some type of sacrifice. But stopping something doesn't add anything new to the equation. I mean, give up candy but come Easter Morning you're gonna dig into the kids' candy basket for those Reeses Eggs ... Right? But by adding something ... doing something ... modifying something that you do, that changes us inside.
So, here's my Lenten Challenge for you. This year ... for the next 40 days ... choose to do something. Pick something important to you, write it down, and you may be surprised at the results.
Yes, I gave something up. And yes, I'm doing something. That's how I meet my own personal Lenten Challenge. I'm accountable to no one but myself. And I don't tell so don't ask.
But, I'll let you know in 40 days how it all turns out. Would love to hear what you choose to do ... and not do. Comment ... email ... share.
You don't have to go to the desert to experience the Love that came thru Lent. See you at the Empty Tomb in 40 days!