The Lenten season is upon us! No, not "lint" like what's in your bellybutton. That's just grody. No, I'm talking about Lent, a religious observance of prayer and fasting in the Catholic faith (and other denominations).
I've found though, that regardless of whether people are Catholic or not, a majority of folks actually enjoy partaking in this particular 40 day process for a number of different reason. My husband is one of them. I think he particularly likes the challenge of being able to follow through with something for six weeks steadily.
For me, it's a time of total renewal with my faith, clear off the dust on my soul, and check back in to what's important. How does that happen? It's a time of penance and usually you give up a little something to know what it's like to walk in His shoes for a few days.
Wait, wait! Before you go running from this site thinking, "she's gonna preach!" I'm not. It's not my style. But I will say that this is my most favorite time of year with the church. Every year there's a new lesson to be learned and I find it really does help me feel reconnected.
It's a challenge to select the right focus for the season. Some people give up things for the time, hoping to gain perspective on how difficult it is to do without a favored item. I've given up things I adore like coffee and peanut butter, both of which might seem minor but are items I count my survival by on the daily. Some people choose to focus on giving back rather than giving up. I've done this by trying to send letters to people and finding ways to offer help to those around me. Sometimes it's making a conscious effort to connect to the Holy Spirit by way of conscious prayer, holding true to no meat of Friday's and attendance at mass every Sunday.
I don't think there's every been a Lenten season where I haven't been tempted or actually fallen off the path I set myself on. It's finding a deep self discipline that makes you stronger and keeps you from succumbing to whatever is pulling you off track.
I also think this journey is incredibly personal. There's an outward appearance of what is sacrificed, but no one can know the journey of these six weeks better than you. In fact, I think it goes beyond just "giving up" something. I truly believe you gain more than you gave up.
So let's say Lent isn't something you've done before or you don't follow a faith that subscribes to, consider it a period of refocusing. I couldn't think of a better time than now to let go of some of things in order to gain new perspective and appreciation. Heck, you might even find a little inner peace and we all could use some peace these days. Don't you agree?
Ever taken part in Lent? What about just giving something up for a time? What did you do to stay the path and how did you feel afterwards?