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.
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?
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??
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.
(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
- I say the Lord’s Prayer silently to myself once a day.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.)
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.
More Lenten practices tomorrow!