I was browsing the net the other day and came upon a post on Amongst Lovely Things that put the Lenten period more sharply into perspective for me. I share it because I believe that we can receive insights for living from different religions – if we are open to inspiration.
Sarah Mackenzie talks about how she has been working on making this Lent a simple one. One in which she pares down – my interpretation, not hers – the whole mystery of the period into five simple ways by which her children may appreciate and live Lent. Two, in particular, called to me – Burying the Alleluia, and the Offering of Sacrifices.
‘Alleluia’ is an Easter word, and, on the first Sunday of Lent, Sarah and her children ceremoniously put away a scroll with the word, written in beautiful calligraphy, to be brought out on Easter, to mark the joyful resurrection of Christ. “After 40 days of quiet, we are practically bursting with Alleluia. :),” she says in the post. “Physically burying the word reminds us that joy always follows suffering. We must wait for it, but it will come. Alleluia!”
But even more important to me is Sarah’s interpretation of why Christians fast. That is something difficult to explain even to non-fasting Christians. This year, the Catholic Communication Centre of the Archdiocese of Bombay has brought out a booklet called Stay a While and Pray with Me: Your Companion for the Journey through Lent. It explains that Lent is a time of spiritual training – to get our spiritual lives in shape, to strengthen what is weak, a time to grow stronger in faith, through the spiritual exercises of prayer, fasting and caring for the poor. It points out that fasting need not be only about giving up food – it can be a time when you consciously give up discontent, anger, bitterness, self-concern, prejudice, idle talk, negativity; you get the drift. Those, often, can be more difficult to give up than just food.
But back to Sarah and her explanation of how offering up sacrifices will help us. “Giving something up for Lent… helps us remember that we are abundantly blessed. So blessed, that giving up something seemingly small can be rather difficult.”
It helps me remember that I have so much to be grateful for; no doubt, it will remind you too.