An introduction to Lent
Lent is about personal growth.
Welcome to a great experience in personal transformation. That’s right! Lent is a time for introspection; a time to look inward, to re-evaluate our patterns of thought, and emerge more capable of spreading love and light throughout the world. Like the caterpiller becomes the butterfly, you too can retreat to the “cocoon of lent,” shed your erroneous ways of thinking, and emerge a beautiful new being.
The word “lent” comes the “Anglo-Saxon word for spring, which is derived from a verb meaning to lengthen. Lent comes in the spring when the days become noticeably longer.” * All cultures around the world have traditions that celebrate the return of plant life, warmer temperatures, and the beginning of growing season. Lent is connected to this tradition and is observed most carefully by Roman Catholics around the world. Regardless of your religious affiliation, open your mind and heart and give this exciting process of transformation a chance. You won’t be disappointed.
Giving up stuff for Lent.
I grew up in New Orleans, a devoutly Catholic city, and was introduced to the traditions of Lent at an early age. As a child, I’ll never forget the schoolyard discussions: “What are you giving up for lent?” None of us 3rd graders had any idea what “lent” was, but we all were part of the traditional Catholic community in New Orleans and we always did our best to participate in the traditions.
“I’m giving up bubble gum.”
“I’m giving up Coke.”
“I’m giving up potato chips.”
The pattern was obvious: you should sacrifice something during this spring time ritual. You should give up something that you like.
Flash forward about 40 years and the conversation has changed a little.
“I’m giving up beer.” And my wife’s friend says, “I’m giving up wine.” While talking with my male friends, these comments come up:
“I’m giving up fishing.”
“I’m giving up golfing…that’s gonna hurt, but it supposed to, right?”
“I’m giving up smoking. Been trying to quit for years. Maybe lent will help me succeed.”
And the list goes on with everything from favorite TV shows to bowling to playing poker to chocolate. Good Christians everywhere give up something they will enjoy or something they need to stop but can’t, all as a way to emulate what Jesus did just before he died.
Well it didn’t take me long to decide that I didn’t like that idea. I did not see any payoff to giving up chocolate or popcorn or bubble gum, even if Sally, David, and Jeff all made a pact at morning recess to follow through till Easter!
A new way to look at Lent
No, our study over the next 40 days will not involve giving up your favorite food or hobby. We will take a journey of introspection to get closer to the patterns of thought that really make our lives what they are. And we will use a process called “denial” and “affirmation.” It’s very simple:
- We first DENY a thought or idea which is harmful, like doubt, anger, fear.
- Then we AFFIRM a thought or idea that is good, like strength, faith, peace, hope.
Sometimes we say “fast” from error thinking and “feast” on positive thinking. It’s the same idea.
Here’s what we will do TOGETHER!
Now for you to get the most out of this time of study, let’s create some healthy procedures:
- Get a copy of “Release and Renew” from Unity School of Christianity, hard copy or digital version. Use the link in the Facebook post.
- Commit to a quiet time (20 minutes is good) every morning to read from the booklet and contemplate the suggestion.
- Keep a journal of your thoughts about the daily topic
- Revisit your journal entry before you go to sleep daily.
- BONUS: also get a copy of KEEP A TRUE LENT by Charles Fillmore (available: https://shop.unityonline.org/products/B0167) This is a great companion to this program of study.
- Look for my posts on Facebook 3-5 times each week. Read and respond. Let’s create a dialogue. As we support each other, we create lots of positive energy.
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- Fillmore, Charles: “Keep a True Lent,” Unity School of Christianity, 1953, p. 138.