As we near the end of winter and enter spring, many of us celebrate Lent, the six weeks leading up to Easter. It’s a time of quiet and peace, as winter leaves a stillness in the air, as if the earth itself is holding its breath waiting in anticipation for new life in the Easter and spring season. Lent is also a time of solemn self-reflection—a time taken by many to evaluate their own spiritual walk. Most of the time, we associate Lent primarily with making small sacrifices–giving up our favorite guilty pleasures like chocolate, meat on Fridays, or social media, a temporary move to reduce distractions from our spiritual commitment. Everyone celebrates Lent differently, but it’s a time to take a step back and seriously reflect on one’s spiritual life in preparation for a renewal of dedication.
While in past years, I typically have celebrated Lent, this year has been different for me. The weather outside in Chicago, as well as throughout the country, has been gorgeous! Instead of March, it feels like late May. The cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. were two weeks early, and everywhere trees are budding and flowers are blooming. The air itself isn’t even still as birds’ songs travel on the warm breezes. Everything is bright and vibrant; it doesn’t feel like winter, which, for me, poses a problem. It doesn’t ‘feel’ like Lent. I’ve been out and about, going for runs outside, spending time with friends in the city, starting to think about summer traveling, and have mentally bypassed winter and early spring altogether. I lost out on a feeling of preparation with my faith community leading up to Easter.
While being out and about itself isn’t bad, I missed the quiet self-reflection of Lent. I was on the move, but not moving. It was like I was talking, but not saying much. As a result, I didn’t benefit from taking time to dig deep, and recharge my faith batteries, assessing how I can be more purposeful and connect further with God. I have been caught up in distraction, at least that’s what it became to me, because I didn’t find a quiet, humble heart in this season. As we enter into the final week of Lent, my faith, while authentic, seems somewhat disconnected. I am now feeling my need to refocus and self-reflect on my dependence on Christ, and who I am as a child of God.
I need to re-evaluate where I can be most purposeful in life, asking whom am I benefitting with my thoughts and actions? Have I learned what I could from the experiences and opportunities set before me? What can I further do and learn to deepen my spiritual walk and develop a greater purpose with where I am right now?
Thankfully, there’s still some time before Easter, and Easter is full of joy and delight regardless of if you celebrate Lent. However, I’ve realized that there is fullness in the joy of the humbling that comes prior. Chocolate has a special sweetness on Easter after six weeks without. Easter takes on new joy in the resurrection of Christ with six weeks of humble, solemn self-reflection for what it means to truly depend on God, and what we are called to be as His children.
So, in the few days left before Easter, I am making it a point to be quieter, and seek out space to pray and reflect on who God wants me to be, and how He can better use me to be purposeful in this world. If you celebrate Lent, how has your journey been this season? If not, do you take time to self-reflect on your purpose and the impact on those around you?
Share your feelings about Lent in a comment below.