So I’m not the most faithful blogger. I’m okay with that.
Here is what you missed in my life.I had a bridal shower at my church. It was the fanciest shindig I have ever had thrown for me.I turned 21 and went out for drinks with my friends. We went to a tea house. And drank tea. T’was fantastic.
But you know, that is not why I have come back to you, dear reader. I have decided to use this blog as a place to journal my Lenten experience. If you are not a Christian, or you are a new Christian, or you do not attend a mainline church, perhaps you have no idea what the word Lent means. Well let me tell you!
Lent is a season of the Christian calendar, just like the Advent season is the month before Christmas. Coming from an old English word for springtime that sounds like lengthen, Lent is the forty days (minus Sundays) before Easter, the day Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son, from the dead. During those forty days (which starts with Ash Wednesday), Christians focus on the death of Christ and the serious call he gave his disciples to give up everything holding them back in order to follow him.
Because of that, many Christians “give up” something for Lent in order to renew their focus on God. It is like spring-cleaning for the soul, removing the junk of your life so that God has special space to work in your life. It is not us trying to make God happy, and God does not necessarily need us to do anything so that God can work in our lives; we do this because we know we need this practice and it is good for us to not always please ourselves.
Sometimes people give up bad habits for Lent, treating it like it is a New Year’s resolution. I think this is missing the point. You should work to take harmful things out of your life anyway. Lol But go ahead, quite cussing, complaining, and drinking soda for 40 days. That’s still a good thing.
People also give up okay or good things for Lent, in order to get an experience that grows them. People give up using Facebook, eating chocolate or red meat, sleeping on their bed or wearing shoes (in solidarity with the poor), using utensils, listening to the radio (to remember the value of silence), sleeping in, or a myriad of other things they think up. This discipline teaches humility, reminding them that they are super rich in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of people who live on $2 a day. It creates a space of listening to God and being aware of what God is doing in one’s life.
So that is Lent.
This year, as much as a college kid can, I have decided to simulate the life of a Benedictine monk.
Yeah, yeah, I’m crazy. And since I’m a woman, it would technically be the life of a nun. But let me tell you what it looks like, and over the next couple of weeks, I will tell you what it is like and what I am learning.
For one, it means drinking only water or tea for a beverage. I’m already Nazarene, which means I do not drink alcohol.
For another, it means not eating the meat of four-footed animals (beef, pork, venison) or any sweets.
It means pausing several times a day to pray. Fifteen hundred years ago, they stopped 7 times a day. I’m just doing 3, reading from a Benedictine prayer book called “The Little Book of Hours: Praying with the Community of Jesus” by Brother Benedict Young. I have to wonder if he was born with the name Benedict, or if he changed it when he entered the orders…
It means taking a vow of silence each night after the last “amen” is said in prayers, lasting until the first “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim Your praise” in the morning.
It means serving those around me, being careful with my words, meditating on Scripture, confessing when I am wrong, loving my enemies, and praying for anyone in my life that God brings to mind.
I haven’t changed what I wear, in order to not attract attention. I am not engaging this practice while living with others who are committed to the same thing; in this matter, I have lost a large part of what it means to be Benedictine. Sigh. But my roommate gave up listening to secular music while she is in the car (she drives a lot as part of her work), so we will have something to talk about.
It is six days into Lent, and things are going great so far. I am hoping that the increased level of discipline will help all of the areas of my life, including my senior year of college and my ministry. My goal, though, is to add meaningful practices in my life that will help my other goals–listening daily to God, being free from procrastination, and having a more healthy life.
Here we go! I will check in with you later!