Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for Lent

We are Presbyterians and in some ways, that means that we exist in a kind of limbo. We aren't "fasters" during Lent like Catholics but we do mark the church seasons, unlike some of the more Evangelical denominations. There's certainly evidence of it in our church - all of the banners and decorations have been removed. There was a pancake supper tonight (although we didn't go because Pk had her music class). Tomorrow night, we will go to the Ash Wednesday service. I don't know whether this is a universal thing but our ministers save and dry the palm branches from palm Sunday and they are burned and the ashes are put on our foreheads. Last year was the first time we tried this and I found it incredibly moving, especially as we all left the church, young and old, wearing the mark of the ashes on our foreheads. Typically, we Presbyterians don't go for being especially public or "marked" about anything.

In the past, I have always given something up for Lent but it was more of an exercise in self-control than a spiritual discipline. This year, I want it to be a bit different. I do plan on giving something up but it's for a greater purpose in my life.

This year, I want the season of Lent to be a time of turning my attention to God. I want it to be a time of reflection, a time of prayer and a time of re-aligning. I plan to give up ice caps from Tim Hortons. That might not seem like much but for me, of late, that has become my tool for getting through the tough times. I'm still nursing so I don't drink beverages with caffeine and I am a hard core tea grannie who uses caffeine to get that boost. I have my one ice cap a day and get a shot of caffeine and sugar together in one go. Even better, it's in the car (there's no Timmies here in town). When the kids are driving me crazy and I need a break, it's easy to pack them in the car, turn on the DVD player for Pk and go for a drive. It's become something that I rely on too heavily in the tough times and it needs to stop. I need to find ways to get through the tough times that don't involve food, caffeine or stuffing myself. Relief shouldn't come from some so external or so empty.

I don't just want this to be a time of turning away from something, I want it to be a time of turning to something. It's funny how at times, an idea or direction keeps coming at you (and if you are a Christian like me, it often feels like a clear message). For me this year, it's all about prayer. I don't pray enough and I don't quiet my spirit and listen for God. I had been feeling that way for a while and have started a prayer journal and a regular prayer time in the evening before I go to bed. It helps but it isn't enough. Then, as you know, I stumbled across Ann Voskamp's Manifesto of Joyful Parenting, which I printed and posted on the cupboard in my kitchen, which begins with creating a "house of prayer" and praying at set times. I read that and thought it seemed like a really great thing to do. The next morning, I found this blog post from Megan at Sortacrunchy and it really spoke to me. While I am not sure that I am up to the entire challenge (I don't know that sharing a meal with someone with whom I have never shared a meal before is going to happen this time), I like the idea of praying at three set times each day and doing it in community. I plan to go to our Christian bookstore tomorrow and pick up the book she is using, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals and to use it to incorporate more prayer into my life.

I am also pondering how to bring Lent to Pk. She is certainly preparing for Easter in terms of the fact that "The Easter Carol" is her favourite Veggie movie of all time but even thought it has a Christian message, I am not sure how much she, at three, has really grasped. Monica, at the Homespun Heart has a wonderful "Journey through Lent" for completing with your children and I think we may aim for that next year. I am not sure the Pk is quite ready and with my going back to work, I don't want to start something so important and not carry it through.

How will you observe Lent this year?


  1. I love Ann's parenting manifest and printed it out and put it in my daily binder.

    I want to be mindful of this holy season - I don't know that I will do anything special or different to help me, but I do want to be more intentional in understanding. I am giving something up - I usually don't, so I guess that will be new for me.

  2. I decided to cut out sweets for lent... or rather, I believe God told me to do so. It is definetly not something I would willingly pick. It is hard. It is something I've been turning to instead of God. oops. So, it needed to go. And I think I need to extend it to junk food now as well, as I've been going to chips instead (which is weird, since I don't like chips much). So, yeah... spiritual battle, methinks.

    Good luck to you! Lent is over half over, now, huh?