How will you “Live Lent” this year? Want some ideas?

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The Sheffield Building in front of Piedmont Hospital started early with an  extreme Lent. Are you in demolition mode to make way for a really new life? Or are you needing a stillness?  
Do you need to get outside of yourself?  Or turn more deeply into your interior world?  One leads to the other.  Pray? Fast? Serve?  They all circle around when done intentionally, attentively. Whatever way you Live Lent this year, know that the world so deeply needs intentional, attentive persons.  How will you be one?   It all adds up.

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The All Saints’ kitty goes by many names (I call her Kitty), and does not Live Lent.  She doesn’t need to.  She lives authentically every hour of every day.
But the rest of us need some  practice.  We forget who we are and Whose we are.   Here’s Kim Jackson on the subject:

In the Adult Formation series, “Preparing for Holy Days,” the participants learned from our Abrahamic cousins some new ways to prepare for Holy Week during Lent.  Some might borrow from the Jewish tradition and take the time to offer sincere apologies to those in our lives whom we have offended. Since Lent is a season of repentance, how much deeper might our experience of this season be if we actually picked up the phone and repented for that time when we hurt a friend or brother?

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You don’t need the latest equipment for Living Lent.  Need to talk to somebody? Do it.
In the Islamic tradition, Muslims dedicate a time for prayer FIVE times a day. What if we decided to pray five times a day during Lent? Would you run out of things to pray about? Or, would our hearts break open in new ways?

Several class participants shared different practices and disciplines that they’ve taken on over the years. We offer these as tried and tested ways of being present during Lent:

  • Pray the Daily Office. Helen Pinkston-Pope tried this one and said, “Doing the daily office helped me have the holiest Holy Week in my life.” (http://www.missionstclare.com/english/)
  • Subscribe (and READ) the All Saints’ Daily Lenten Meditations
  • Fast from one meal each day and use that time to pray instead of eating.
  • Pray family devotions each night using Compline. (Kim)
  • Unsubscribe from Social Media and replace it with meeting a friend once a week for face-to-face conversation.

What fits YOU??

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Lent does not need to be grim and steep and sterile.  Really.
Here are some other possibilities from the staff and vestry:

From Leighton Stradtman (vestry and search liason): “I’ll prepare for Lent by having a colonoscopy. (OKAY, LEIGHTON! That’s the spirit!) And each day during each day of Lent, I’ll fast (there’s that word, “Fast” again) from complaining and write a short note of gratitude to someone who has shaped my life.

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This is Flash and Carroll in our dog walk. When I get too busy and self-important, I fast from my life (not good) and  fence myself out from our intimate world.
(Also do you sometimes let the best be the enemy of the good? That fences you out.) Our treasurer Charlie Ogburn  has modified his Living Lent through the years for what really works for him. He writes

  1.  I say the Lord’s Prayer silently to myself once a day.  
  2.  I don’t finish any food placed in front of me.  I can eat anything, but only 1/2 to 3/4 of what is on the plate.  
  3.  Alcohol restriction:  I tried to eliminate it completely, but that was too hard and awkward (business dinner: “why aren’t you having a glass of wine?”).  So I allow a couple of days a week, which can be “borrowed” backward and forward.  

Charlie adds, for me, fasting is about a daily (or hourly) reminder of our connection to God, And I lose about 10 pounds, which means all of my clothes fit for another year.  And I REALLY celebrate Easter.

Here’s one more approach to fasting from Louisa Merchant through a Muslim community where she was working.

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Living lent means living as if you cannot live alone in peace.  Because you can’t. I can’t.
Louisa says, “I’ve never had a Lenten practice, but I did have a Ramadan one because I worked at a Muslim school and everyone fasted, even the little kids, and so, I of course, did too.  I remember Ramadans as some of the happiest times at the school.  Sure, it was hard to go all day without food, but that wasn’t nearly as noticeable as the palpable presence of a communal and abiding calm, a peace among the brethren that was so tangible it will almost barometric, not freezing but cold and so clear.  This is what I wish for us this Lenten Season.   A chance to feel the communal centering, to be encouraged by the presence of others who are going within and to not only find the still, silent voice in ourselves, but to find it most of all in our togetherness.”

One of my favorite beloved communities is the Cathedral Book Store.

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Sally Hansen volunteers at the Cathedral Book Store which has GREAT SPIRITUAL PRACTICE BOOKS. Sally says she “gives up” for Lent. Brilliant!! What would be a gift for you to give up??
Here’s Vestry member, John Frazer Giving Up Negative Thinking:  “I will try to be more positive in thoughts  in hopes that those will develop into my reality, Fake it, tell you make it. (John says he’s not sure faking it  is a Lenten practice. I told him It DEFINITELY IS. Act your way, fake your way into a more authentic way of being in the world.)    

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This sounds good. Here’s an example of what you can get at the Cathedal Book Store.
Here’s a heartening note from Clay Jackson, the chair of the Rector Search Committee!

Besides giving up only  soft drinks, which is hard for an Atlanta boy to do, I cannot honestly admit to an annual Lenten practice. I would tell you that after conversations with many amazing clergy over the past few months, I have experienced a bit of a spiritual awakening. I will try and nurture that feeling during this season.

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Whoever is our new Rector is a blessed person.  Coming to a parish with  a tree of life with roots and many branches. And many ways to Live Lent.  Thanks, Clay for helping her or him find the way.
More Lenten practices tomorrow!

Martha +

 

 

 

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