Living Lent to the Fullest
“Lent is a time for trimming our soul and scrapping the sludge off a life turned slipshod.
Lent is about taking stock of time, even religious time.
Lent is about exercising the control that enables us to no to ourselves so that when life turns hard of its own accord, we have the stamina to say yes to its twists and turns with faith and hope.
Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be.”
Christmas is now behind us, a distant memory at this point in our lives, as we approach another season of Lent. Somehow, we tend to associate Christmas with waiting. And thinking about waiting brings back so many memories for me.
When I was very young, I can remember the three hardest ‘waiting periods’ in my life were the long wait until Fr. Christmas came bringing me lots of presents; the long wait then until the Easter Bunny came to hide the Easter eggs in our garden for me to find; and then the long six month wait between Christmas and my birthday in June. Poor me!
Waiting is hard. Seasons of difficulty and darkness – when there’s no end in sight – can be unbearable for so many people. I am certain that’s how the disciples must have felt in those long days leading up to the cruel suffering and death of Jesus.
However, every Lent offers us a fresh opportunity to meditate on the life of Jesus right up to his final moments and ultimate passion, death and resurrection. Or, alternatively, we could just as easily travel this Lenten journey without letting its roots grow deep within us.
Come Easter, we would, once again, simply have gone through the motions.
Perhaps, this year, we can approach Lent differently. We can try to be more mindful of Jesus as He journeys the final stages of his life towards the Cross. For us too, Lent is a journey from life to death, from light to darkness. And yet, conversely, Lent is also a journey from death to life, from darkness to light!
The Lenten Gospels share many stories of Jesus’ encounters with those who have lost all hope, yet come to see their lives transformed as they accept the message and healings of Jesus, their Saviour.
Lent has traditionally been, not only a time of prayer, fasting and repentance but also as a special time set aside from the busyness of our lives to enable us to come closer to God. A time of preparing for Easter similarly as Advent helps us prepare for Christmas. It helps refocuses this special season for me.
I no longer merely regard the practice of ‘giving up’ something as part of an old tradition, but also as a way of sharing the joy and anticipation of the triumph of Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter.
There are many traditional practices associated with Lent besides ‘giving up’ something and fasting. For me, this Lent, hopefully, will be an opportunity to aim to spend more time in the silence and presence of God.
I know it won’t be easy to make this time but here in lies the lesson: Lent is the time to ‘give up’ making excuses. The time to stop saying ‘No I can’t do it!’ Most of all, Lent is the time to live our lives more fully, for life is a gift from God that we should embrace to the fullest.