A Disciple's Thoughts for Lent, written by Marci McGowan
“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food,
until you return to the ground.
Since from it you were taken;
for dust you are,
and to dust you will return.”
“Remember man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
We are now in the Church season of Lent. It is the time between Ash Wednesday, a time of receiving ashes on the head in the shape of the cross (when the pastor quotes the scripture used here), and Easter.
As I was growing up in a Catholic grade school, we were often asked to give up something during the season of Lent, a small “sacrifice” on our part as compared to Jesus' suffering and death upon the cross. I remember trying to give up candy. That did not work too well.
Later on in my current life, I have come to do something during Lent instead of giving up something during Lent. The act of doing something, such as an exercise program for my health, is more of an active way to participate during Lent. Giving alms and volunteering could be another activity. Doing an activity helps me to focus more on a task than just seeing Lent as another time to get through.
Some ways to help Lent seam more meaningful are fasting, reading and reflection, meditation, Bible study, and prayer. I have come to regard my walking time as a part of my reflection and meditation time. If you have a labyrinth in your area, that would be a good form of active meditation. The walking meditation part helps to refocus one on the lenten topics of sacrifice, suffering, and even redemption.
A reflective meditation to think about while walking can be that of an “Examen of Consciousness." I remember hearing about this form of spiritual practice during my time at the Catholic grade school. It is not just for Catholic Christians; any Christian can use the Examen. This particular examen of consciousness comes from Macrina Wiederkehr's book, Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day. This book recommendation came from a friend.
“Examen of Consciousness”
by Macrina Wiederkehr
Have I been a good memory in anyone else's life today?
Have the ears of my heart opened to the voice of God?
Have the ears of my heart opened to the needs of my sisters and brothers?
Have the eyes of my heart beheld the Divine face in all created things?
What do I know, but live as though I do not know?
Have I been a good student of the hours today?
How have I affected the quality of this day?
Have I been blind or deaf to the blessings of the day?
Is there anyone, including myself, whom I need to forgive?
When did I experience my heart open wide today?
Have worked with joy or drudgery?
Have I waited with grace or impatience?
What is the one thing in my life that needs attention?
The season of Lent need not be filled with drudgery and despair, but can be a time of quiet reflection and meditation. It is the season before the anticipation of Easter, a time of great rejoicing in the Christian Church. We are called to live out our lives in Christian faith, hope, and love. -MM
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us ways to remember that we are your people, and remembering this, be mindful of the ways you call us to live for you. This includes in making sacrifices that will come in many forms throughout each day and throughout our lives. Help each of our days be one that is changed forever because of the faith, hope, and love that you give us to carry along with us. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.