With Ash Wednesday ahead on February 14, my "antennae" have been attuned to ideas for making this Lenten season more personally meaningful. In this month’s Guidepost, one woman shared that last year she decided she wanted to "offer time and intentional appreciation" during Lent. She made a list of 40 people she felt especially grateful for and wrote a thank you note each day of Lent. Another woman decided to give up her Facebook app but also to take something on. This she determined would be to carry an extra plastic bag when walking her dog so that she could fill it with litter found along the creeks and woods in her neighborhood. There is no end to the creativity with which we can engage this season to make it more relevant to our daily lives.
Fasting has been a spiritual practice sometimes associated with Lent. It has been practiced since time immemorial in almost all cultures. Fasting can remind us that we have the power to give up, to resist so much consumption. While I have not practiced it myself, others have said it has been meaningful and made way for new perspective. However, Pope Francis has suggested we expand our notion of fasting. He wrote:
"Do you want to fast this Lent?
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and have trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen."
However you may choose to honor Lent in your life, may God’s blessing be upon your efforts.