Here is the next submission:
Growing up, Lent was not a familiar concept. Our preparation for Easter consisted mostly of dying eggs. There were the ordinary hard-boiled eggs that I rolled around in dye. And there were the special ones. Eggs with the contents blown out, the shells decorated and then tied with ribbons to a Manzanita branch. With careful packing the collection was brought out year after year. The other significant Easter preparation was the making or buying of an Easter dress, usually with a stiff, scratchy petticoat.
As a youth I became aware of the Lenten practice of giving something up. I was amazed to hear of friends that had given up chocolate for Lent. There was even a joke. If there was something you didn’t want to do, you would say “I gave it up for Lent.”
As in, “I gave up scratchy petticoats for Lent.” It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to understand Lent as a time of preparation and spiritual practice. The congregation I was a part of encouraged us to find a way to turn to God daily. We were pointed toward adding a spiritual practice to our lives during the weeks before Easter. Fasting, giving something up, was one way to remember God. Or we could add a spiritual practice, such as reading the Bible, daily prayer, or journal writing. These spiritual disciplines were woefully absent in my daily routine. I have found the annual reminder to daily turn to God to be challenging and helpful in the years since.
A few years ago I invited women from my neighborhood to join me in a six week book study during Lent. We committed to the daily practice of reading about and practicing the spiritual disciplines found in “The Cup of Our Life” by Joyce Rupp. That group has hung together for many years as a weekly prayer and book study group. The members have changed over time but the focus on God and prayer has been constant.
That is my best lesson: that of Lent as a time of preparation. Whatever practice you choose, it is only a means to focus on what is most important, the continual reminder that we are the beloved children of God, blessed to be a blessing by our relationship with others.
“Love each other as I (Jesus) have loved you.” John 15:12
Gracious and Loving God, help us to remember to focus on You as we prepare for Easter. We pray that Your Love will be a Light that shines through us to everyone around us. We turn to face You, Lord. And all God’s children said, AMEN.