I have lived through many Lents, and I have my usual ways of observing the season, focusing less on giving up something and more on doing something different.
This Lent, I read of two Lenten observances that were new takes on Lenten practices.
The first was a walking Lenten observance. Since I love to walk—both for exercise and as a meditative practice—this suggestion appealed to me. It came from a Lenten blog called Walking the Path of Lent with Friends which offers different ways to walk through Lent.
One suggestion was to walk with Jesus—that is, to walk 90 miles, the distance Jesus walked from Nazareth to Jerusalem. The idea of intentionally calling upon Jesus to walk with me during Lent intrigued me, and so I began inviting Jesus to walk with me on my daily walks. I tried to look at my surroundings through Jesus’ eyes, to view my neighbors and nature as Jesus might see them.
Almost immediately, I was aware that my walks are all circular—I start and end at my house— while Jesus was walking toward a destination, so I adjusted my idea of walking to think more of the path I am walking, because my path has a greater possibility of forward movement, of going somewhere.
What path am I walking? Where is Jesus leading me?
Then I read an article by Brother Tom Smyth, CFC. He writes:
This past Lent I decided on a different approach; focusing on my gifts rather than my failings.
About a week into Lent, and after some reflection, I identified a number of gifts that I feel I have and printed them up on 8” x 4” placards. I taped them on the wall, in a circle around the crucifix. Putting them there helped keep me focused on why I was doing this, to recognize the abundance in my life that has come through God’s gifts. A few weeks further into Lent, I came across some files containing worksheets from vocation meetings….Instead of identifying the gifts we saw in ourselves, participants identified the gifts they saw in others. I added those gifts to those I had placed around the crucifix. It was powerful, not just to read what others had seen in me, but to recognize that God has truly gifted me, in abundance…After considerable time in reflection, I realized that there is a whole other side to this gift thing. It’s the why. Why has God been so generous to me? My response became, “It hasn’t been for me; we are gifted for others.” We are called to use our gifts in the service of others. The abundance is given to us so that it can be shared.
I like the suggestion of naming my gifts and displaying them. Also, the idea of being gifted for others has been a recurring theme in my prayer. God gives abundantly for us to share abundantly. How am I gifted for others?
Where is Lent taking you?