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Invitation to the Observance of a Lenten Discipline


I had a hard time deciding how to observe Lent this year. I'm still fairly new to Lent so I'm still trying to grasp the meaning of it. The past two times I observed it, I gave up something. But I wanted to do something different this year, to go deeper spiritually. I wanted to take these 40 days to reshape my life and to strengthen my relationship with God. Right before I went to my church's Ash Wednesday service, I read a post by A Sacred Journey and these words struck a chord with me:

So often Lent is associated with death and with fasting, but that’s not the whole story. It’s about the stripping of the false self in order to call forth the true self—the imago dei. It’s about surrendering the things that don’t give life in order to allow the things that do to flourish. It’s about clearing away the brush of winter and making space in our lives so we can tend to the new growth that comes with spring.
But as a sat in my pew, I still didn't know what my plan for Lent was. Through the words and the music of the beautiful Taize service, nothing was speaking to me. It wasn't until the pastor closed the service and also said that Lent means spring and that it was a time of action, that I decided what I was going to do.

I'm going to look at things in a different way. I'm setting my alarm for half an hour earlier and reading a devotional before I go to work. I'll end my day in the Examen tradition of lighting a candle and reflecting on the day's events. I'm going to take every opportunity to get something done around my house, even it that happens from my couch. I'm going to watch less TV and read more. I'm going to look at my life and give up the things that don't give life. This is especially on my mind with the passing of my coworker Vicky. There are no guarantees and I need to start appreciating this life that God has given me. Even if it doesn't look like I thought it would, it is a blessing.

When I celebrate Easter, I want to look back and see progress - to have cleared the clutter of my house and my mind so that I can concentrate on the things that matter. I want to feel a sense of accomplishment, not in that I survived 40 days without something but that I spent 40 days discovering what I have.

I will read these words from my Ash Wednesday service bulletin as my mantra:

Create in each of us a kneeling place,
where we may empty ourselves of our self-importance
and become vulnerable to your Word to us.
Help us to set our faces firmly
against friendly suggestions for safe, expedient lives,
and toward the risk of discipleship.
Loosen our grip on certainties that smother possibilities.
Forgive our resistance to change.
Let us pursue the adventure of losing our lives
in order to find them in you.
Guide us to follow the way of the cross
where despair is transformed by the promise of new life
and where we are compelled to intercede
for those who have more pain in their lives than hope.
Hold our feet to the fire of your Lenten grace,
so we can see our actions in the light of your costly love. Amen.

  I am so excited to see what my life is like on April 5.

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