Thursday, February 26, 2009

got chocolate?

Lent is a time for taking stock of our spiritual lives. One of the most common questions you may hear is, "What are you giving up for Lent?" As a child we were encouraged to give up chocolate or ice cream or TV. Our parents gave up cigarettes, drinking, swearing and caffeine. This was supposed to bring us closer to God (though I recall some very cranky parents). I remember a man who would give up smoking every Lent and carry one cigarette in his shirt pocket as a reminder of the cross that he was bearing for Christ.

As I grew up the focus of our church turned from "giving up" something to "adding" something - such as devotional reading, volunteering or reconciling with someone. Whatever we decide to do (or not do) it must be done with humbleness of heart- as we become more reflective, and more aware of what holds us back from loving God and others.

I've asked several people what they are doing as a Lenten discipline this year and here are some of their answers: One is giving up computer games as they have become a way of disengaging with reality, another is giving up Facebook as it has taken the place of spending time with her family. I noticed a co-worker walking upstairs at a slow pace. I asked why she was doing this and she responded that this was her Lenten spiritual practice that reminds her to slow down. I love that one. I'm still pondering what mine will be.

And yet many people I've talked to are feeling that they are already living in a Lenten experience as they join the unemployed, the foreclosed, and the hungry. For them the thought of "giving up" something seems absurd - after all, they have already lost so much. As I see the fear (False Expectations Accepted as Reality) that is affecting us all in this economic crisis, I have to fight the desire to grasp too tightly to that which cannot give life. So wherever we stand at this moment, may God shower each of us during this Lenten season, with that Divine transforming love that never fails. For though we may stumble in our attempt at giving up or adding on, God will never stop loving us.

4 comments:

Jayne said...

Like you Roberta, I choose to take things on instead. I am doing a daily devotional called Signposts at a nice web site I found- explorefaith.org. I have to really make myself slow down and think about the season. It really is a time to reflect and grow. Blessings to you today my friend.

sandy said...

Beautiful! Even I can understand that one. blessings

d said...

I have always been intrigued with "giving up sin temporarily". I guess it morphed into giving up something that we consider bad for ourselves. But again, "temporarily?" It never made much sense to me. Why would it be a tribute to christ to improve ourselves for forty days only? But, then again, I do like symbolism and acknowledging Christ's suffering for us is good. I think I'm getting more cynical in my owd age. We can give up a bad thing, but hold on to the fact that it's only temporary, we can go back as soon as Christ rises. I do like the giving of something much better. But again, why not make it a permanent habit? Ah, we are a strange lot we sinners.

Hope you are enjoying the beauty of the unexpected snow gift. It's only temporary.... love ya, d

ROBERTA said...

in the same way that we accumulate "stuff" and do a spring cleaning Lent offers us a time to not only ponder the time Christ spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan but an opportunity to do a bit of internal spring cleaning. i think it's one of my favorite times of year - it's not so much the 40 days of giving up something that matters but the practice itself that transforms us - it's not about getting thru to that 40th day but the journey itself. Jesus was preparing himself for a bigger call in his life - perhaps we can too - instead of taking something off the plate i am considering what i already have on it - i am always drifting away from god if i am not aware that i am always beginning this journey.

lenten blessings be upon you,
roberta