Warming up the one grande coffee you allow yourself per day in the microwave, you hear a voice over your shoulder,
“I’m going to miss that. I don’t know why I decided to give up coffee for Lent this year.”
Funny, you think to yourself, I didn’t know she was Catholic. Before you can respond she asks,
“What are you giving up for Lent?”
You may not know your co-worker that well but you know for a fact you are NOT Catholic. You tell her that you’re not giving up anything because you are not Catholic. She responds that neither is she but it’s a thing at her church and her yoga class. She figures that laying off the morning Café Mocha would not only be good for her waistline but her budget too.
Lent. It’s a thing, she says, to see what you can do without.
As she walks off, you contemplate that idea. You get curious. Is that what Lent is really about? Is it really just about going without?
I admit, as a non-Catholic, I knew very little about Lent until a conversation in the gym a couple of weeks ago. As we talked about the dates of Mardi Gras and Easter, the conversation also drifted to the observance of Lent. One of my clients said she thought it would be better to do something positive, to add something good to your life instead of taking something away. I agreed that positive action is always a good thing but I wasn’t sure it was in the spirit of the tradition of Lent.
When I did my homework I was surprised that there is more to Lent than what we usually here about. (At least those of use who aren’t a member of the Catholic church.) I found a great article on the History of Lent from the Catholic Education Resource Center that taught me a few things. Yes, fasting, sacrifice and abstinence have long been a part of the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. What no one tells you about Lent is some of the positive aspects of preparing the faithful spiritually for the celebration of Easter.
“Moreover, an emphasis must be placed on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading…” – Rev. William Saunders
This is the positive that my client was looking for. This is the time many people are missing in their regular lives, much less during the time leading up to Easter. There isn’t a time to pause and do something that nourishes the spirit. Whether you are a member of a faith family or just consider yourself spiritual, you can still follow the Lenten practice of making time weekly (or daily) to take care of your soul.
I am not going to challenge you to give something up for Lent. Instead I want you to add to your life and enrich your spirit during Lent. Think of how you can perhaps do a mental cleanse and prepare yourself for the coming of spring, the next chapter in your journey or the next phase of your life. Make time to connect with goodness and bring light into the world.
And perhaps you can take your Café Mocha money and donate it to a good cause to cover both bases.