Fior those who don't know today is the beginning of the season of Lent in the Christian Churches. Known as Ash Wednesday it means that there are 40 days (or about six weeks to Easter). Traditionally, it is a quieter, more reflective time...I think of it as a gift.
A time when we don't have to apologise for being restrained, and when we can be more inward looking.
Although there is often a tendency to emasculate religious celebrations, Lent should really be a time of great positivity. Although it is a time of Fasting, we are reminded that the social justice tradition of Judaism and Christianity is not about giving up lollies or not taking sugar in your coffee...it is about trying to find a way to do good to others. And to do it in a way that doesn't seek for any reward.
Sometimes with the best of intentions we can come up with a great list of things that we could do in Lent and ened up doing none fo them.
So I have named some of the things that have tended to emasculate Lent.
- Seeing it as a negative rather a positive. The cure? To treat it as an opportunity rather than a burden
- Playing fasting games. Unless we see that giving up sugar or chocolate is only a symbol it becomes fairly facile. The cure? Do something caring for someone, preferably without fuss even secretly
- Trying to do too much. The cure? Decide to do one thing well, this makes a challenge a possibility rather than a likely defeat.
On the whole Lent might be good rather than awful. Particularly if we realise that God is trying to draw us closer. That can only be good.