Friends, Romans, Water Saints, “Lent” me your ear… Bad puns and quote-abuse, but a good idea: How might you most effectively use your ears (and the rest of your senses) to prepare to receive the good news of Easter? Let me count the ways.
I grew up in a 1960s, deep-south congregationalist church that left the pre-Easter preparation of Lent to the Roman Catholics. Discovery of the meaning and value of Lenten discipline has been one of my greatest joys. It’s nothing like I imagined.
Denying myself something I liked (chocolate, meat, or some other pleasure) never struck me as a desirable path toward understanding the divine. Imagine my delight when I found that this ancient practice is much richer than simple sensory deprivation. Beyond ashes and a reality-check with mortality, Lent offers us a chance to renew one of life’s most valuable resources and attitudes: gratitude.
Faced with the limits of human finitude, we can despair, or we can celebrate the gift of time that God gives. While it is true that we have no guarantees and no way of knowing how long we will be here, it is even more true that whatever time we are granted should be relished. What would happen if we committed ourselves to a Lenten focus of appreciation for the unending display of God’s gifts and grace with which we are surrounded?
Start every day with a few minutes of prayer and silence, cataloging a few of the ways you can be alert during the ensuing day to God’s “forgotten rainbows”: sunrise, sunset, the calming sound of moving water, music, art, architectural complexity, mountains, valleys, pets, wildlife... Set your alarm or make appointments throughout the day to pause briefly to review the panorama of creation you’ve seen; anticipate what other beauty will unfold before your day ends.
End your day with a prayer of gratitude that is breathed, sung, written, or simply replayed in your mind. Think of the person who is either most in need or would be most appreciative of this attitude of gratitude and resolve to share it with them as soon as you can. It is my contention that Easter is a gift that is most deeply received by those who regularly see, touch, smell, hear, and taste resurrection. Use this season of Lent to count yourself among them!
© 2012 Todd Jenkins