Today marks the beginning of the season of Lent. The most common expression of Lent that I encounter is that people give something up for Lent. Theoretically what is given up is something that they like or care about. If all one is doing is giving something up, but not reflecting on what one is giving up, or using the money saved to contribute to a charity it is possible that they are not getting the full benefit of giving something up. This also only represents one or two parts of Lenten discipline. The Book of Alternative Services, also referred to as the BAS (The BAS is the prayer book used in most Anglican churches in Canada and available at http://www.anglican.ca/resources/liturgicaltextsonline/ electronically) in the Ash Wednesday service includes the following:
I invite you therefore, in the name of the Lord,
to observe a holy Lent
by self-examination, penitence, prayer,
fasting, and almsgiving,
and by reading and meditating on the word of God.
(BAS p. 282)
In my discussion with a spiritual director we looked at possibilities for a Lenten discipline that would work for me. Fasting, which usually means giving up meat, isn’t really an option. I went to a vegetarian diet at the beginning of the year, so it’s easy to say I’ll give up meat for Lent. It was suggested that I focus on prayer, reading the daily Bible readings and meditating. In my experience these also lead to self-examination. I have also decided that I will add writing daily blog posts with reflections on my daily journey through Lent.
What I have noticed with meditating is that the pause allows one to clear the mind and open it up to the Holy Spirit. I have practiced meditation in the past, but not on a regular basis.