When you hear the word lent, what do you think of? Ashes, penance, acts of service, sacrifice? Although these are all part of Lent, they’re really only tools or aides that are used during our Lenten journey.
What does Lent as a journey look like? Like other journeys, Lent is a time when we intentionally travel from one place to another. We have a destination and a starting point. We aren’t just traveling from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday though! Instead, we’re intentionally moving from one condition, or way of being to another. From a point of origin to our destination.
Where are we headed? What is your destination?
We could say that the destination is universal – During Lent we are all called to “Change, Conversion, and New Beginnings”. Although our destinations might sound similar, our point of origin will be unique to each of us, according to our circumstances, which makes the journey to our destination one of a kind!
Where do we begin? What is your point of origin?
On Ash Wednesday, when we begin our forty-day Lenten voyage, we find ourselves in a certain “condition”, both spiritually and humanly. Notice, that there are behaviors and patterns (both spiritual and human) that we are currently in, that prevent us from being the best version of who God made us to be. These characteristics are a barrier to our human and spiritual wellbeing and define our current “way of being” or our “point of origin”. Lent is our opportunity to be honest with our current state of being, identify those barriers and understand what we want to change, convert or start anew. What characteristics or current behavior are preventing you from reaching your destination?
Now that you’ve identified your point of origin and clarified your destination, it’s time to plan How you will get from where you are now, to where you want to be on Easter Sunday!
Because we are all starting this journey from different places, how we will travel to the destination will look remarkably different – so – don’t compare your journey with anyone else’s! Keep your eyes on your destination and travel in your lane! What does your lane look like? How will you use the Lenten tools available to help you reach your destination?
There are 3 things that can help tremendously on your Lenten journey, a map, a plan and a toolbox.
- The map – this represents the various routes available. All good in their own way, but like all successful trips, we have to choose ONE way – we cannot travel ALL the routes! Be realistic, take your current circumstances into consideration. For example, some routes are more conducive to small children, while others are more suited to empty nesters! Take a look at what devotions and Lenten practices are available at your local church, add those to your own family traditions and choose the path best suited for your state in life.
- The plan – this represents the old-fashioned highlighter that we used to use to mark our route on the map! Although we are far from using highlighters and paper maps, the idea of identifying our route is still a good one! Once you have considered all your options and chosen your “route” – this is where you “highlight” the route you have committed to. First, mark parish activities and group devotions on the calendar for all to see and plan around. Next, personally make note of your destination, point of origin, and what you will do for the 40 days of Lent. Finally, invite your friends and loved ones to do the same!
- The toolbox – this represents the traditional Prayer, fasting, and giving and can be used in variety of ways. How will you use the tools of Prayer? Fasting? Giving?
Our Lenten journey can take us from one state of being to another …From one frame of mind to another…. From one way of seeing life to another. With God’s help we can use this Lenten Journey to make the changes that lead us to that deep and profound conversion where we can wake up on Easter Sunday with a renewed understanding of Christ’s gift to us!