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We are in the thick of the season of Lent. One of the benefits of my upbringing, though I did not always see it as such at the time, was attending Catholic school. In particular, was the robust way in which Catholics engage in Lenten practices. Each year there was the traditional discussion of what we were giving up. Also, my Catholic friends did not eat meat on Fridays so there were frequent conversations about fish fries. While I am many years removed from conversations past, Lent has made its annual appearance. This solemn and sacred time in the life of the church prompts us to place special intention and focus on repentance and reconciliation.
Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for the celebration of the resurrection. It is a time of penitence and reflection. During this season, people often sacrifice things like social media, screen time, and video games. Other items that are sacrificed are fast food, coffee, soda, or sweet treats. Additionally people give up certain behaviors like gossiping and complaining. On the other hand, people often choose to pick up something new. They engage in practices like intentional prayer, meditation, committing to acts or service or reading the Bible or devotional material.
Whether one is putting down or picking up, we are invited to engage in these practices for a number of reasons. We have the opportunity to disconnect from some of the things that often knowingly or unknowingly take up our time and distract us. Things that deplete us of the peace, joy, love and hope that God provides. We have the chance to spend intentional time unplugging from the world and drawing closer to God and to others. This season offers us time to engage in the work of breaking a habit or a way of being that does not support our health and wellbeing; as we shed harmful ways, we make room for ways that move us toward wholeness. Ultimately, Lent is a call to return to God, the one who is our source.
Maybe you had not thought about making a Lenten commitment. Fear not! It is not too late to join us on the journey! I invite you to prayerfully consider what you might put down and/or pick up. Maybe there is a practice I mentioned previously or something you have on your heart and mind. Whatever it might be, I encourage you to move towards that which will help you connect more deeply with the Divine. Whether you decide to join or not, know that the Spirit has been and continues to walk with you and invites you to draw more closely to the God who loved you so much that He put on flesh. Not only that, He laid down His life for us.