February 22, 2012

new sort of reflection...

Today is Ash Wednesday. For those who don't know the significance, of that, it's the start of celebration of Lent, which is 40 days (roughly) before Easter. It's a time when several churches (Catholics and others) either require or encourage the faithful to reflect and fast. The basic concept is to reflect on Christ and to draw closer to him. Many churches limit their diet (some take out meat, some just on Friday's, some fast all week with Sunday being the only non-fast day, it varies).

I've never celebrated Lent. I didn't grow up in a church that did it, and once I was older and making my own decision about spiritual practices, it just never attracted me. I would hear about people giving things up for Lent--soda, sugar, television--and for me, it didn't click. I'm sure there are things that I could do without, but most of them I either don't really notice much, or the lack of them doesn't focus me back on God.

But this morning, as I was making phone calls at work, I had a thought. I thought about how Jesus prayed, asking God to take away the cup of death. Jesus didn't want to suffer the cross, and yet, he did. And then I thought that if I were to participate in Lent, perhaps instead of giving something up, I should do something that might help identify with Christ, especially in the area of doing what I don't want to do.

So I'm going to give it a try.

In order for it to really help me identify with Christ, I knew whatever I picked would have to be something I'm able to do, but something I really don't want to do. The first thing that came to mind was daily exercise. I can do it, but I so hate it. For me, every moment spent exercising is a chore, a pain, and taking me away from the things in life that seem worthwhile.

I know, it's kinda silly, but God often uses the foolish things to confound the wise, so I'm not going to question His ability to use daily exercise to draw me closer to him. Especially if it's about suffering, because believe me, I'll be suffering. I'm sure there will be much calling out to God.

I'm starting tonight, as soon as I'm home. I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, leave me a comment--have you ever given up something for Lent? How was the experience? Do you find such "celebrations" help or hinder your spiritual walk? Have you ever participated in any such celebration? Start talking!


Rebekah said...

I wish you well with your exercising. =D I'm eager to see how it goes, and how you're impacted by it.

I haven't participated in Lent. Like you, I grew up in a church that didn't really encourage it, and it never clicked. But, I'm still growing Christian, so who knows?

Maybe someday God will lead me that direction, or I'll recognize the merit and decide to do it.

MangyCat said...

What a great and unique way to honor God and refocus during Lent. I love that you're doing the exercise too. You really picked something that suited you perfectly--you can do it, but it's a struggle to do so.

Many blessings on your Lenten journey!

stephanie said...

I've practiced Lenten penances to varying degrees my whole life. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I just read about fasting (in general) in "Rediscovering Catholicism" by Matthew Kelly. There is so much good he has to say and your commitment to exercise actually fits quite well. Here are a few bits that struck me: "The purpose of fasting is to assist the soul in turning back to God." "Authentic Christian fasting helps to release us from our attachment to the things of this world." "I am utterly convinced that if we are to develop the inner freedom to resist the tempations that face us in the modern world, we must learn to assert the dominance of the spirit over the body, of the eternal over the temporal. If the spirit within each of us is to reign, then the body must first be tamed. Prayer won't achieve this, works of charity won't achieve this, and power of the will won't achieve it. This is a task for fasting, abstinence, and other acts of penance." About Lent he writes, "The forty days of Lent are an ideal period for renewal. Lent is the perfect span of time to form new life-giving habits and abandon old self-destructive habits. But most of us just give up candy and, when Easter arrives, we are no further advanced spiritually than we were at the beginning of Lent." God bless you on your journey!

Fire-N-Ice said...

Hooray for you! I tried to give up various things for Lent when I first became a Christian and it just never seemed to be about Him but about my own torture...and it never drew me closer to Him. Now I try to spend a little time each day to bring myself closer to Him and glorify Him in some shape or form no matter if it seems insignificant to others.
Good luck in your exercise...I have started going to the YMCA daily so if you ever want a partner to work out with let me know!!