Since I began my monkish adventure a couple of years ago I’ve been exposed to many new (to me, although they’re centuries old) ways of worshipping and serving God. My Protestant upbringing and Christian life severely limited my exposure to liturgical and high church traditions. In spite of living my entire life in Louisiana and hearing of Mardi Gras since early childhood I had no inkling that it had anything to do with God and certainly not with a season of sacrifice. You see, although the lines are beginning to blur somewhat, during my childhood there were two very distinct Louisianas. There was South Louisiana, very much Catholic, the land of seafood, Cajun cooking, lots of French language and Mardi Gras. And then there was North Louisiana, mostly Protestant, farm country, woodlands and we spoke plain redneck English. To most of us in northern Louisiana Mardi Gras was just another Cajun party and we had never even heard of Lent.
But, as I mentioned, I’m being exposed to many new/ancient traditions and the Holy Spirit is drawing me toward them. Over the past few months I’ve read several things about Lent and each time the Spirit has prompted me to do something but I’ve put off making any decision on it. Last week while reading a totally unrelated article the word relentless jumped out at me – more specifically, the two words Lent and less in the middle of relentless. The Spirit seemed to be asking me, “How much longer are you going to be Lentless?”
“Benedict tells us that Lent is the time to make new efforts to be what we say we want to be.”– Joan Chittister
So, I made the decision right then. I replied to God that I would be Lentless no longer.
I will not be Lentless this year. I’ve made a commitment to participate in Lent this year, to make new efforts to be what I say I want to be.
But what should I give up? Several things have come to mind that would be sacrifices for me to give up for 40 days. Bread was one recurring thought but I wasn’t sure I wanted to make that strong of a commitment. You see, I LOVE bread and have it almost every meal. However, the Spirit would not let me drop the idea of bread so bread it is.
The Lenten tradition that I’m most attracted to is not just simply giving something up. It entails fasting (justice towards self) but also prayer (justice towards God) and service (justice towards others). With God’s help, beginning Ash Wednesday I am abstaining from eating bread until Easter. I’m asking the Spirit to use my physical hunger for bread during these 40 days to increase my desire to pray for those who don’t have adequate food. I’m also, with God’s assistance, going to actively use more of my time and money to help others without food.