For Catholics, we are about to begin the season of Lent, the 40-ish days leading up to Easter. This is traditionally a time that the Church encourages the faithful to focus on prayer, spiritual fasting, and charity. Since joining the Catholic Church nearly six years ago, Lent has actually become one of my favorite times of the year. Seriously.
In my book, An Adult-ish Toolkit, I talk about the importance of recognizing and embracing different seasons and rhythms in your life, and one of the things that helped to illuminate that idea for me was observing the liturgical seasons of the Church. The Church has its own calendar that remains the same every year, with observances of important feast days such as the Annunciation (when St. Gabriel came to the Virgin Mary and asked if she would carry the Son of God), for example. Christmas and Easter just happen to be the big ones. That liturgical calendar also has times when the Church calls on us to be more somber and reflect prayerfully on the state of our souls and on the world around us. We are called to put away the excesses of the world and focus inwardly on our own souls and also outwardly by giving our time, money, and resources to others. This is what Lent is all about.
So why is Lent one of my favorite times of the year?
Because I often need to re-center myself. I need to ground myself once again in my faith and love of God and allow all the other distractions of the world to fall away. After the extravagances and chaos of the holidays, I need the self-discipline and the self-denial of the Lenten season to find what’s important again. And I think that the Church, in her wisdom, knew this tendency of the human soul to stray, and so gave us this gift of the Lenten season to help bring us home again.
In my book, I comment that, “We are simply not meant to live every day, every month, every year exactly the same with no change of pattern or pace.” We can also honor this by observing the rhythm of the natural seasons, especially now as we begin to transition from winter into spring. Perhaps some of us start to get that Spring Cleaning bug, and want to clean out certain excesses in our lives (whatever form that may take). As the earth starts to come alive again and things start growing, we can start to add more fresh food back into our diets. We can get out into the open air for walks and other activities and the weather begins to warm up.
Even if you aren’t observant of Lent, this can still be a time of renewal and re-dedication to being the person whom God is calling you to be.
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