What does it mean to observe Lent? How can I practice a Lenten fast in way that is authentic? Is it really necessary to give up chocolate? These are some of the questions that I’ve been pondering as I read through the latest edition of Let Us Keep the Feast.
I mentioned this series in December when I reviewed their Advent & Christmas book. I really appreciate the conciseness and applicability of these books. They are short, to the point, very informative, and offer great resources for helping your average liturgical-church-wannabe (like me) to bring meaningful rituals into the home.
I confess, I received this copy too late to really dive into Epiphany fully — although we did rally enough energy to make our favorite version of a king cake. Now that I read the excellent overview of Epiphany written by my friend Anna, I am particularly sad that I didn’t invest more time in this season. I would have loved to have had more candles in our lives, reminding us of the light of Christ. And I was delighted to read about a tradition of blessing homes by writing with chalk on the door frames. Lost opportunities, to be sure — but the wonderful thing about the liturgical calendar is that we will have another chance to celebrate next year.
I am glad to have an opportunity to honor the season of Lent in our home again. We have tried a few different ways to observe Lent in the past which worked well, but I’m always looking for something that suits our family right where we are. I tend to steer away from “giving up” disciplines — refraining from chocolate or alcohol or meat. I know this can be a wonderful way to connect with God for many people, but I just haven’t gotten to that place yet. But I think I’m getting a little closer, as I believe this year God is inviting our family to do some purging.
Preparing for Lent starts with a trip to get paczkis for Mardi Gras. Lucy and Rosie ogle the offerings here at Bennison’s Bakery .
In a discussion with my spiritual director last week, I was surprised at how much I needed to talk about the clutter in our home and how draining it is for me. I’m not a “neat freak” by any means, but I do appreciate an ordered space. Between the natural accumulation that happens over time and the prolific creative projects unleashed by two polar-vortex-bound children, I’m experiencing some serious feng shui problems. And I think Jesus agrees.
So, through prayer and conversation, I believe God is inviting us to give away some Stuff this season, clearing the way for spring and new life and more Jesus in our lives. Ah! just writing that feels like taking a deep breath of air. I am particularly hoping for the spiritual fortitude to release some burdensome items on our shelves — projects or books or games “that we should really use” or clothes “that I should wear.” Those shoulds are exhausting to me, and I’m looking forward to giving them to someone who might find joy in them instead of obligation.
You’ll be glad to know that the family seems to be on board with this plan. While talking this through over a family dinner the other night, we decided that we would give away one thing per person per day in Lent. (I had been imagining 100 things a week, but Jon talked me down from that, and I think he is wise.) I’m planning for us to check in once each week to make sure we’ve found our seven things to give away. And I’m hoping there will be joy in the purging.
Sisters who eat paczkis together, stay together.
You won’t be surprised to know that I’m not the first one whom God has invited to do this. Cate MacDonald talks about the natural connection between spring cleaning and Lent, remarking that “lenten discipline may well encourage you to clean some of the clutter and dirt out of your home as you do the same to your soul.” May it be so!
Cate MacDonald focuses most of her exploration of Lent on the question, “What is a true fast?” Referencing Isaiah 58, she points out that God’s chosen fast doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with giving something up. It has everything to do with living rightly before God, caring about justice, and listening for God in your life. What an excellent thing to focus on for six weeks!
So let me start my Lenten observance by giving away an extra copy of Let Us Keep the Feast: Epiphany & Lent. If you’re interested, leave a comment below by the 11:59 CST Wednesday, March 5, and we’ll choose a person randomly to receive the book. Yes, that will be technically after Lent begins, but I think God is okay with that, don’t you?
I’m delighted to be participating in a blog tour this year, sponsored by Doulos Resources. I’ll be reviewing each of the four volumes of Let Us Keep the Feast along the way. Let Us Keep the Feast is available at the Doulos Resources Store, where you can receive 15% off any version if you use the promotion code “LUKTFBlogTour.” You can also find the books at amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.