“One of the wonderful things about the Lenten season is a sense of being in process. Lent is our springtime of new growth and renewed life. Lent is the season to realize that God is continually creating; that God’s grace is continually moving through us.”
– Source unknown
Though I’m one of those quirky “cradle Episcopalians,” I’ve always had a difficult time offering a simple explanation to folks curious about Lent.
In a nutshell, Lent is the 40-day liturgical season that takes us to Easter.
For many, Lent is a time of prayer and fasting, a time of preparation.
In a long-ago Confirmation class, I was taught by the priest at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in my hometown of Grenada that I should choose something to give up during Lent.
He said whatever I gave up, I should save the money I would’ve spent on it and put it in my mite box to offer up on Easter Sunday. (Mite box? That’s another explanation for another day.)
Apparently I missed the part about giving up something that means something, something the loss of which might have an impact, make me feel I’d sacrificed something.
I was too busy listening to my giggling classmates talking about giving up watermelon for Lent.
Whether due to peer pressure or just plain childishness, it sounded like a good idea to me.
A few years later, still wallowing in my spiritual ignorance, I gave up bubble gum the Lent I had braces on my teeth and bubble gum was forbidden anyway.
Then I grew up a little and suffered through a 40-day virtual desert with no soft drinks. I remember shooting up a lot of spontaneous prayers for strength when I’d pass a Coke machine. Often the Dr Pepper jingle of the day would play constantly in my head. But I persevered.
By Lent’s end, I felt a sense of accomplishment. I felt more disciplined.
And finally, I understood.
A good friend of mine gave up cussing a few Lents ago. My respect for her was great – for a while.
Then she became the profanity police: Anyone who let slip a dirty word while speaking with she of the curse-free vocabulary had it brought to their attention. Quickly.
Lent made even more sense to me when I learned you could also take something on.
And for the past few decades, I’ve alternated between giving something up and taking something on.
This Lent, I’m taking on the discipline of making it to the Wellness Center at least five times a week.
Whatever your Lenten tradition, I wish for you a time of peaceful reflection that might make your Easter one of amazement.
Contact Leslie Criss at firstname.lastname@example.org or (662) 678-1584.