Monday, February 19, 2007

Reflections of Lent

Of Lent in Springtime...

Winter eventually becomes a time of waiting; waiting for the warmer weather,for the icy thaw of the waters and the gifts of the sea in full view once more, lush greener grass to walk upon, the glorious singing of a songbird nearby, and all the other things one can envision while sitting upon a park bench such as this one near our home.

My favorite "thinking/praying spot"...

I loved to come here in the summertime, and this week with all the incredible amounts of snow accumulating, I drove passed my favorite "thinking spot", to discover it was almost impossible to stroll to its resting place, mostly due to the depth of the snow surrounding it.

Lent is upon us with Ash Wednesday happening tomorrow. We gobbled down our pancakes this morning on this "Shrove Tuesday", the eve of Lent. Did you know many restaurants are offering free pancakes tonight, or partial payment for a stack? International House or Pancakes for instance - free! Make a note to take part in this next year and it's growing as a tradition around here for certain, almost every church had a special Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner, McDonalds restaurant offered pancakes all day long, as well as all you can eat at Smitty's and IHOP after 10am.

Lent represents forty days of reflection before Easter, beginning of course on Ash Wednesday and we skip Sundays when we count the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection. Lent begins on
21 February 2007 this year and ends on 7 April 2007, which is the day before Easter. In many countries, the last day before Lent (called Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, or Fasching) has become a last fling before the solemnity of Lent. (If you cursor down you can see our daughter's Mardi Gras mask she made last week)

Lent occurs in the midst of springtime, another waiting period as we prepare for Easter. Usually Lent is a time period where we willingly choose to abstain from certain pleasures, denying ourselves things as a sacrifice, and at times avoiding unnecessary grand feasting, saving the rejoicing for after Easter Sunday, Our Lord's day of his resurection, our hope for eternal life. It’s always been a more humble and somber time in many ways in preparation for a journey into the desert for spiritual renewal. It’s a personal journey for everyone, and also for every family. In a nutshell, it's a time to grow closer to God.

Even during Lent though, my hubby and I were granted permission to marry, resulting in feasting with family and friends, and enjoying our days as a newly married couple preparing for our first Easter together - something a wee bit unusual for the time period. Life was a big blur before our wedding day, more times than not, so naturally keeping our focus wasn’t at all an easy task.

Those days so long ago seem reminiscent of our current year, as we are in a flurry completing necessary arrangements for another feast during Lent, a day which just happens to fall into this time period all these years later. This one is a particular grand occasion happening soon, one which holds high value and extreme importance to us as a family in general. Plans were decided upon over a year ago, coming ever closer now to its fruition.

Admittedly, I'm finding it to be a rather poignant time personally, with Lent being observed at the same time as feasting yet again, and yet feel as though we’ve already been in a Lenten for several months now.

"Whoever wishes to be my follower must
deny his very self, take up his cross each day,

and follow in my steps."

(Luke 9:23)

Do you ever find there are moments in life where you have been blessed with both the sweet and the savory, almost a bittersweet tenderness, so gentle and fragile, it becomes enormously emotional? This is how we are feeling the past few days as hubby and I ponder and reflect upon our Lenten preparations.

Lent is a time for lots of things ~
some personal, some communal,
all beautiful when done with love.

So then, with the events before us,
do we still sacrifice?

This year will be purposely and markedly different initially for our family's Lenten journey, remaining ultra flexible in our selected goals to achieve during these next forty days, and yet, still observe Lent as a whole, offering our whole hearts with easy simplicity, keeping a balance of the beauty we thrive to seek.

The book of Ecclesiastes gives a beautiful account to ponder, reminding us there is a time for everything under the sun, so we celebrate, and we fast, and we pray, and we find a healthy balance between all, but not becoming so intensely prudish and stringent to the point of ruining the festivities by our over extended pious attitudes and behavior. There is a time to rejoice, and Lent has always been the time slot our particular celebration has occurred. Our Lenten journey will not be similar to anyone else, thus we are unique as we walk our paths this year!

" Let us feast and do so then with great joy! "

The following was sent to me this week, a superb reflection for sure, and now I'm passing it along to you to ponder for your Lenten journeys ahead...


Give up complaining. . . . . . . .focus on gratitude.

Give up pessimism. . . . . . . . . become an optimist.

Give up harsh judgments . . .think kindly thoughts.

Give up worry. . . . . . . . . . . . . trust Divine Providence.

Give up discouragement. . . . .be full of hope.

Give up bitterness. . . . . . . . . . turn to forgiveness.

Give up hatred. . . . . . . . . . . . . return good for evil.

Give up negativism . . . . . . . . .be positive.

Give up anger. . . . . . . . . . . . . .be more patient.

Give up pettiness. . . . . . . . . . .become mature.

Give up gloom. . . . . . . . . . . . . .enjoy the beauty that is all around you.

Give up jealousy. . . . . . . . . . . .pray for trust.

Give up gossiping. . . . . . . . . . .control your tongue.

Give up sin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . turn to virtue.

Give up giving up. . . . . . . . . . . hang in there!