The season of Lent has always been more for liturgical churches than Quaker meetings. Historically Lent is a 40-day journey, from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 13) through Palm Sunday (March 24), which symbolizes Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Even though it was not originally part of our Quaker religious tradition, many Friends have begun including the spiritual practices of Lent as part of their experience leading up to Easter. Several of the Lenten practices coincide with our testimony of Simplicity. Below are several suggestions to help us focus our attention on creating a holy season this Lent.
- Change the channel: Try skipping TV for an entire day or week.
- Feed your soul: Schedule weekly dates to do something fulfilling alone (i.e. visit a used book store, listen to a favorite Mp3 while taking a walk, visit an art museum.)
- Eat light: Cut back on the size of your meals. Recognize your hunger as an expression of God-hunger.
- Be A Simon the Cyrenean: Simon helped carry Jesus’ cross. Once a week, offer to help a neighbor, family member, or co-worker with a tough chore.
- On a day other than Sunday worship with friends or family: Be attentive to songs, prayers, and readings that speak of wilderness or repentance.
- Avoid gossip: Avoid situations that tempt you to talk negatively about others.
- Send a message: Write a letter to someone from whom you’re estranged, seeking to reestablish your friendship.
- Give it up: Pick one habit that drags you down or keeps you from living fully. For a day or week, let go of it. Fill the emptiness with something positive.
- Share a meal: Make a meal and bring it to a shut-in neighbor or friend. Or invite someone to have a meal with you.
- Rise and pray: Get up a half-hour early and spend the time in complete silence. You can meditate, write in a journal, say memorized prayers, or read the Bible.
- Be complimentary: Compliment someone on a job well done. Look around your life for an unsung hero and thank that person for his or her diligence, competence, and dedication.
- Clear away clutter: Sometimes outward messiness in our lives reflects an inner clutter
These are simply ideas to help us begin thinking about how we may set apart these 40 days leading up to Easter. My hope is that we will begin on February 13th (Ash Wednesday) to explore this ancient season of the church year and find it a time of “wilderness growth,” spiritual practice/discipline, and a time of holy wonder.
Grace and Peace, Pastor Bob+