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Today marks the first day of the Lenten season.  Admittedly, I am not the most qualified person to speak about Lent.  Though my spiritual heritage is Catholic, I have never actively practiced this particular beautiful faith tradition.  My understanding of Lent has been pieced together from observations of how other people observe it.  Even though my understanding of it is incomplete, the Lenten season has become one of the most meaningful elements of my spiritual practice.
My hybrid, post-graduate, postmodern, Portlandian understanding of Lent is thus: this is a season of abstention for the sake of reflection.  I choose to abstain from something(coffee, pastries, texting…) and for forty or so days, reflect on what happens to me without said item.    It’s a season to be more mindful of God, and praying through my abstentions is absolutely vital.  If I’m on top of things, I blog about it as I go.
In the pursuit of a life of peace, I believe the practices of mindfulness, reflection, and self-control are essential.  Certainly they should be a foundational part of our daily lives, but a season devoted to them serves well to sharpen our senses and insights.  A season of extra self-control and mindfulness serves to jar us out of our routines and bring to awareness things we may have forgotten.  Routines are great, particularly if they’re good routines…but it’s also easy to perform a routine like an automaton without thinking about it or perceiving anything about it.  That is not healthy.  That is one of the reasons I appreciate Lent, because it pushes me to a new level of mindfulness and self-discipline and gives me an opportunity for personal reform.
That said, my aspirations for Lent this year are thus:
I would like to learn more about Lent, its origin and its meanings.  This way, I can speak about it accurately.  This way I can practice it more fully.
This year I will be giving up pastry products, particularly in coffee shops.  Cookies, scones, muffins, sweet breads, croissants…Ay!  Just writing down the list makes my mouth water!  But I would like to be aware of what my body feels like without them.  I would like to become more aware of what is going on inside and outside of me when I crave these things.  And saving some cash and fitting into my skinny jeans won’t be so bad either.
As we go, I’ll happily share my findings with anyone who cares to know.
May we live in peace with God and with each other.  May we live in good awareness of what is happening inside us and all around us.  May we exercise good self-control and mindfulness.  May we take time to reflect on each moment, each choice we make, each action we do, each emotion we feel…