Mother Lisa Files: The reflective season of Lent

Greetings and happy winter to all! It seems that the mild temperatures we enjoyed during December have ended, and January has brought us a “proper” central New York winter. I anticipate that February will bring us more snow, ice, and colder temperatures—the perfect recipe for retreating indoors to find warmth and comfort.

My grandson’s UPK teacher planned a lesson on hibernation that I thought was quite appropriate for the season and for the drop in temperatures. After the lesson, each of the children wrote a story detailing their personal hibernation plan—where they would choose to hibernate, how long they would sleep, and of course the list of “must-have” items that they couldn’t live without. Levi’s story was very cute and endearing—he plans to hibernate at school (because it is the coolest place on earth), and he is going to sleep for one hundred and twenty years. His “must have” list includes: hot dogs, French fries from McDonald’s, a few toys, and his bed (which apparently is very easy to carry).

Of course, his cute little story made me smile proudly, but it also got me thinking about what my hibernation plan might look like. Where would I choose to lay my head and my heart? How long would I slumber? What items would be on my “must-have” list? And as I asked myself those questions, I realized that what I was actually doing was working out the details of my plan for spiritual practice for the upcoming season of Lent, which begins on February 10.

Each year, I intentionally and prayerfully choose at least one or more spiritual practices to reflect inward and draw closer to God. Over several years of doing this, I have come to love and enjoy the reflective season of Lent. I look forward to each season with anticipation, as I learn to develop a deeper understanding of how God is at work in me and in the world around me. This year, I have purchased a book of daily reflections titled, Meeting Jesus on the Margins: Meditations on Matthew 25. This book of meditations, written by a variety of faith leaders, is designed to heighten awareness of the places and spaces where we meet Jesus through service to people on the margins. I am also planning to join up with Diocesan youth to participate in Lent Madness 2016. Lent Madness is a Lenten devotion that combines a flair for sports with daily devotional learning centered around the lives of 32 saints.

There are many ways to deepen your spiritual journey through Lent. Some people choose fasting as their spiritual practice – fasting from various foods, or even from daily habits (like changing negative thinking to a focus on the positive; or fasting from too much activity and intentionally slowing down).

Rather than letting go of something, many people choose to add something – like a daily meditation or prayer, daily exercise, or planting a garden. Others may choose to offer their service to others by supporting a new project. Whatever the choice, the purpose of adding a spiritual practice during Lent is to intentionally draw closer to God, to reconnect in ways that are life-giving, and to strengthen your journey with Christ – within you and in the world.

May we all be blessed with a fruitful Lenten season that fills our hearts with the Lord!

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