by Barb Dancer
According to Wikipedia: “In Lent, many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days.” Growing up Roman Catholic, in my house it was simpler: we gave up chocolate, or maybe all sweets, or when we were older and body-conscious, we gave up those pesky 5 pounds… I’m not sure any of those really replicated the sacrifice of Jesus’ journey into the desert. And worse yet, we rarely really stuck to it for the 40 days. They fell by the wayside like New Year’s Resolutions. Looking back, it makes me sad.
When our kids were small, we tried to make a conscious effort to come up with creative things to do as a family (or creative things not to do) for Lent. Our objective was to implement some small, conscious change to make the world a better place. One year we gave up eating fast food in the car. I know it may sound lame, with a lot of caveats – but it was progress for our busy family. We could still have Burger King, but we had to go in, sit down together and eat dinner as a family. We were working long hours and the kids had all sorts of evening activities. This Lenten practice gave us more focused family time together, more dinners at home around the table – and taught us that any table that we were around together as a family, was indeed home.
Another year we gave up plastic bags and bottles – no small feat for young athletes needing water and Gatorade. I’m happy to say that refillable water bottles became a way of life after that Lenten season.
Another year was a weekly grandparent “touch”. Every week they would reach out (with our help) to at least one grandparent living far away. They made cards, pictures, called them on the phone. Every week we discussed our plans and made sure to make time to follow through. While the grandparents didn’t know about our Lenten commitment, they sure loved the results.
Not profound or monumental, but these were small changes that we all remember fondly to this day. Small changes, small impacts, but moving us in the right direction – toward Christ.
This year as I reflect, it is another busy, crazy time. Different than when the boys were small, yet equally frantic. Now it’s my global job that seems to have no time boundaries, combined with my Stephen Ministry work, combined with my first experience serving on the vestry. Adding in a new Lenten sacrifice seems overwhelming, until I come back to what I learned long ago. Small changes, small impacts, moving in the right direction. Lord be my guide.
“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”
– Blessed Teresa of Calcutta