[Tap tap tap... is this thing on? I always enjoy reading this blog, but have yet to actually post something! Here goes...]
Like others in the group, I grew up in an Evangelical church. I never observed Lent, and really had no clue what it was until I was in college. Even then, I still didn't really "get it," nor did I put much effort into exploring it. All I really knew was that some of the girls in my dorm decided to not hit the dessert table in the cafeteria for 40 days. How enticing!
It wasn't until last year that Adam and I decided to learn a little more about Lent and to subsequently observe it. It was a challenging time (we gave up meat), and while it was beneficial in that it forced me to deny myself, I feel like I could have taken more away from it. So, here I sit, reading about Lent and contemplating how I might observe it in a more meaningful way this year.
From what I have learned (and I'm sure there are some of you who are much more educated on the subject, so feel free to add/interject), the word "Lent" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lengten, which means spring. It is a season of pruning, of giving and of giving up, of reflection, penitence, simplicity, and growth-- a season leading up to the celebration of Christ's resurrection.
Now, I'm not "about" performing perfunctory rituals based solely on longstanding traditions, but since Lent has never held that place in my life, I think it could be a very beneficial season. It is not in my nature to readily pause and reflect or to deny myself, so I think a dedicated period of time to do so will probably do me good.
Yesterday's conversation (well, the parts that I was there for, at least) got me thinking about these digital mediums, communities, networks, whatever you want to call them. I wasn't left thinking that they are necessarily detrimental, but rather that I should take some time to reflect on WHY I use them. And while I know that some of you don't use networks like Facebook, I must confess that I am one of the people who spend too much time on it. So perhaps this upcoming Lenten season will be a good time for me to take a break from it, to instead use my time reflecting, investing in relationships face-to-face, and opening myself up to more ways that I can love God and love my neighbor. Lent is also a time for prayer-- another subject on which I am "fuzzy." After our conversation on prayer a few weeks ago, I picked up Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's Becoming the Answer to our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals-- I'm hoping it will glean some insight into my confused head.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts about Lent. Past experiences (or lack thereof) are welcomed. I'm sure there are EmDes-ers out there with more insight on the subject, so please share away! Is anyone else interested in observing it this year? Ash Wednesday is February 25th..