I’m that person that would rather drive than fly. Although I am excited about the destination, I value the potential opportunities for personal insight and growth along the way. There’s nothing like piling ten people in a fifteen passenger van, and driving across the country, to help you learn more about yourself! I think the experiences that occur between my point of departure and my destination are way too important to miss, so I am willing to drive almost anywhere! To me the journey, and all that comes with it, makes arriving at the destination all that more sweet.
This Wednesday, we have the opportunity to embark on a life changing journey; a journey filled with many possibilities for personal reflection and growth. This journey, as with all journeys, promises to take us from where we are now, to another place; a better place. On Ash Wednesday, we begin our journey toward Easter Sunday. We begin in one state of being and, by the grace of God, if all goes well, we will reach our Easter destination in another, better state of being.
Generally speaking, for any journey to be successful, it requires some pre-planning. Lent is no different! If we want to have a successful Lenten journey, we need to plan for it. The first step is to identify and be clear about our destination. For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to propose that our destination for this journey is not only Easter, but a state of being that can truly experience the Joy of Easter.
Now that our destination is clear, and we know where we are headed, how do we get there? What is the best route for us to take? To plan our route, we need to know where we are right now; where we are departing from. To help you determine where you are in your life right now, it is helpful to assess all the different facets of your life. Take a few minutes to consider the following exercise:
Look at these significant areas in your life, and score each one on a scale from 1-10. Ten being the best it could ever be; one being horrible.
Completing this exercise, will help you determine your point of departure; where you are in your life right now. Knowing where you are clarifies your beginning. The next step is to determine what you need to do to get from here to your destination. You need to plan your route. How will you get from your current state of being to your Easter Sunday state of being? To help plan your route, consider the following exercise.
For each category mentioned above, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the reasons for this score?
- What is working well in this area?
- What are the opportunities for growth in this area?
- How will I grow in this area this Lent?
As you plan for your journey, consider these three Lenten practices as the fuel for your journey. Prayer. Fasting. Almsgiving.
Prayer – How can your prayer life fuel your Lenten Journey? What prayer or Lenten tradition will help you achieve your desired growth?
Fasting – Fasting doesn’t necessarily have to be food related. For example, Pope Francis has encouraged the world’s faithful to fast from indifference this Lent. What type of fasting will help you transform your current state of being, into that being ready to truly experience Easter Morning?
Almsgiving – As fasting doesn’t have to be about food or drink, almsgiving doesn’t have to be about money. It’s about the sacrifice, stepping outside yourself and thinking of others. What act of Almsgiving can help you grow in the areas you have identified in the previous exercises?
What specifically will you do to achieve the growth you desire? Take the time to write down what you have decided on for your Lenten journey. This is your plan, the route you will follow to help you successfully arrive at your destination.
So often our lent is spent attending Stations of the Cross, saving our coins for the poor and giving up chocolate, coffee or wine, when the greater challenge, and opportunity for personal and spiritual growth, is found in a deeper examination of where we are, and where God is calling us to be. I’d like to invite you to truly live this Lenten journey, by taking the time to assess where you are and what it will take for you to arrive at an Easter state of being. A state of being where you will genuinely be able to experience the great Joy of Easter and our Risen Lord.
You can’t truly experience Easter, without truly live Lent. So live it well!