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!