Charlotte Lankard: Spread spirit Lent throughout your year
Lent is most typically associated with the Catholic Church, but also observed by Lutherans, Methodists Presbyterians, Anglicans, and those in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Baptist, Evangelicals and Pentecostals typically do not, but it is something any Christian can do.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, people replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.
Lent is based on sacrifice, so most observers give up a favorite food or a favorite activity like desserts, alcohol, or movies.
My friend Nancy sent me a list of suggestions attributed to Pope Francis: Fast from hurting words and say kind words. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude. Fast from anger and be filled with patience. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope. Fast from worries and have trust in God. Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity. Fast from pressures and be prayerful. Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy. Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others. Fast from grudges and be reconciled. Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
After reading the Pope’s suggestions, I went online to see what others were doing and I found the suggestions by teenagers more specific: Give up shopping online, Facebook, being a backseat driver, pizza, sarcasm, leaving the lights on, texting and driving, rolling your eyes at your parents, spitting your gum out on the sidewalk, and telling yourself you are fat or stupid. Give up laziness, greed (which means not buying anything except the essentials), pulling the victim card when things go wrong, and my favorite of all — refusing to recognize God in your neighbor.
Why just 40 days?
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at email@example.com.