I am still trying to figure out what to "do" for Lent this year, since Lent begins tomorrow.
There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour). Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.
Perhaps I will try all to do all three. Our church is in the midst of a capital campaign, and I could use a fast to be a little more mindful about my food, and where it comes from and what it does to/for me. And I can always pray more. I've been toying with the idea of reading all the Gospels all the way through. I've tried it before, and never finished, but maybe this is the year! Or just praying in a better way. Check out the daily prayer option at this site I just found:
Dear Jesus, as I call on you today I realise that I often come asking for favours.
Today I'd like just to be in your presence.
Let my heart respond to Your Love.
Usually I check out the green (Christian) sites to see what ideas other people have about Lent, but it seems like everyone is in the same boat as me this year. Emerging Parents does ask what ideas parents have for observing Lent with children. And I have to say, that's a good question. I'm having trouble talking with La Prima about Lent - it's been hard to describe WHY I would want to give something up, in a way that makes sense to her. "What does 'spiritual' mean, mom?"
Here's a good clip from Susatainablog: "what does Lent have to do w/sharpening green habits?" with some ideas:
* Confession. You’ve been incredibly good this year. You’ve spent countless hours poring over the Green Options blogs. You’ve made many changes to your lifestyle. For the CO2 you are guilty of emitting, you have purchased carbon offsets. You’ve even worked on promoting public policy aimed at a greener tomorrow. It is OK to be proud of yourself for being well on your way to carbon neutrality. But it helps to participate in a rhythm, every now and then, once a year, looking at how far we need to go as a society. Now that green is mainstream, green-washing and half-a**ing our way to a warmer planet is a new concern. Even if I were carbon neutral, I am still throwing my sustainably earned dollar into a carbon-spewing economy. Small doses of intentional reflection and confession every now and then keep us grounded and healthy.
* Fasting. For those of us who don’t yet have a Nobel in our pockets, a certain amount of giving something up for a specified amount of time has a centering effect. By the way, if I ever get a Nobel Prize, I’m totally carrying it around in my pocket. Anyway, this practice provides clarity to see what we really need and don’t need. I learned how few luxuries I really need last summer/fall as I backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail for 4 ½ months, hiking from Maine to Georgia. I didn’t even take coffee because I didn’t want to carry anything unnecessary. Even when I don’t have to lug it around in a backpack, I still limit my coffee consumption. (Note: I’m certainly not a locavore fundamentalist. I adore all things tropical. I think Equal Exchange is a more than worthy alternative to abstinence!) Rather than thinking of it as austere self-denial to achieve some higher spiritual plane, I think of these “fasts” as temporary periods when I evaluate my consumptive habits. It helps me rediscover gratitude and happiness in non-material things. If you are a traditional Lent observer, you might think of going without meat as a way to reflect on the effects of factory farming on the environment. If you want to try something crazy, try going without corn—it’s more difficult than you think! The purpose is to go an extra step for a short period of time to foster a more mindful lifestyle year-round.
* Hope. Of course, the solemn and gloomy practice of observing Lent is tempered with the hope that Easter is coming, which offers the expectation that things will get better, and not just because on Easter we break our fasts. We’re working together toward better days ahead and believe that we can do it together. Ultimately, we’re envisioning a better future and then living into the vision. This yearly rhythm is a good way to stay sharp.
* More info: Christians Told: Give up Carbon for Lent
So, anyways, what are YOU doing for Lent? I wish you all a fulfilling Lent.