Reflecting on Lent
As a child my faith tradition did not observe Lent. Of course, we celebrated Easter. There was tradition and celebration leading up to and surrounding Easter. Mainly I remember that Good Friday and the Monday after Easter were days off from school. I’m dating myself when I tell you this was before spring break. In high school several of my friends came to school with ashes on their foreheads and went to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday church services. I knew we all shared a belief that Easter was the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. By the time I was a young adult Easter became more than just a couple of days off from school. Easter symbolized an opportunity for new life based on Jesus’s willingness to take on all of the worlds’ sin, be crucified on the cross, and rise after three days in the tomb. I understood this from a personal perspective also. The older I get the deeper and more personal my perspective becomes.
I view Lent as an opportunity to personally identify with the suffering of Christ as he prepared for the reality of what he faced on the cross. By this identification with the suffering leading to his crucifixion and resurrection, the celebration of new life has a reality that was beyond my understanding as a teenager. Now, as a senior citizen, I value observing Lent as a gentle reminder to be present to the reality of the Holy Spirit in my daily experience. So what do I give up for Lent? I give up the need to be busy all the time, to accomplish something meaningful, to find ways to make more money. What do I get in place of busyness, accomplishment and wealth? I get freedom. But this freedom comes with the desire for spiritual discipline to create balance. With the need for balance, tension is created. Living into the tension of freedom and discipline, I am able to be in the present. I am able to let go of the past so that I am not constrained or bound up by past decisions or circumstances. I am able to view the future with hope. The tension reminds me to remember Jesus in the present. I am able to live in reality.