Lent is more like a quaint custom connected with the old days when people not only went to church but kept spiritual practices like daily Bible reading, prayer and fasting. But perhaps we might consider the potential benefits of Lenten observance.
Lent has been promoted as “an opportunity to take stock of our own lives.” One source I read said, “For so many of us there are too few opportunities to slow down and reflect upon the direction of our hectic, consumer-drive lives. The Season of Lent invites us to take time to attend to those aspects of our lives that we often neglect.”
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Lent is not about “giving up,” but “taking on” practices that will restore us to sanity.
In my experience, my life does not get out of balance because I don’t know what is good for my soul. My life becomes unmanageable because I allow habit, or a lazy preference for short-term gratification, or (most often) fear of change, to keep me from doing what I know is better for me.
February 18 is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent. Maybe you’ll consider building a new habit by taking on one healthy practice. Diet, exercise, acts of caring, making a deeper commitment to a community where there are people with whom you share values and interests. Maybe even a church!
Jack Lohr is the Interim Pastor at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, NY.