As I’ve walked my neighborhood this week I’ve been struck by the presence of two remarkable things—the first flowers of spring and the decaying but beautiful leaf skeletons that are the final form of last year’s leaves.
The flowers are stunning and hopeful and small and glorious, but the leaves too have a remarkable beauty of their own. They have been sitting and decaying all winter and now, as spring is about to begin, they take on one of their most beautiful forms yet.
With only the structure of vein’s left, you can see the real foundation of the leaf. They will soon decay back into ground, and new things will begin to grow. The branches of the trees are bare. The flower gardens are barren and waiting. The first hopeful sprouts beginning to peak through. The time is ripe for Spring, ripe for Lent. Yes, the word Lent means SPRING!
And I’m sure I’m not the only one whose apartment and life could use a bit of Spring Cleaning this time of year. That is what Lent is for—to clear out the cobweb-ridden old boxes that are stuffing the attic, to finally dust behind the picture frames in the living room, to go through that closet that has become the catch-all for the year’s unwanted junk. Lent invites us to clear out some of the things that hold us back and take a step toward our better selves, which also brings us closer to God and closer to others.
Lent is a time to challenge ourselves to choose better things—for our bodies, our souls, and our spirits. The 40 days of Lent help us contain this new experiment and also help us have more space to discern what else in our lives are blocking us from God, from others, and from being our best selves.
Joan Chittister, author of The Liturgical Year, says, “Lent enables us to face ourselves, to see the weak places, to touch the wounds in our own soul, and to determine to try once more to live beyond our lowest aspirations.” It reorients, re-grounds, and re-centers us, empowering us to live in a more whole way. It offers us….Spring.
As Lacy mentioned in her post this week, somehow the idea of adding one more thing into this season of life feels overwhelming. But that is part of why taking things out can feel so freeing. I live a life that is constantly filled with busyness, stress, and the need to be productive and efficient at all times. So this year, I’m going to spend thirty minutes a day in silence and stillness. I’m treating this 30minutes as a daily break from that frantic anxiety-filled internal world. It’ll be inconvenient some days, but I so desperately need it.
How will you make space for some new blooms this Lent?
IDEAS FOR PRACTICES
1. Spring cleaning
Do your own Spring Cleaning of the space you live in during Lent this year. Our space matters, and clearing out the clutter physically somehow also helps us clear out more space internally.
2. Notice Nature
What do you see in the part of the world where you live this time of year? Look for leaf skeletons, bare branches, and barren flower gardens. Look also for the new signs of spring growth—buds on the trees, daffodils coming up, a little more warmth in the air. Let the turning of the seasons accompany your Lenten journey.
3. Create a Lent practice
There are a plethora of different ideas of new practices to take up for Lent. The traditional Lent practices are praying, fasting, and almsgiving. But think outside the box of how these might be played out. What area of your life could use some Spring Cleaning? Maybe it’s how you treat your body; maybe it’s what food you eat; maybe it’s your busy schedule; maybe it’s how your spending your money; maybe you need to commit to community worship on a more regular basis.
Other ideas for Lent to spark your imagination:
And finally, a great new resource for each liturgical season: Pilgrim Year. Journey through the Liturgical Calendar with this new interactive guide for iPhone and iPad created by artists. If you purchase their Lent guide, you’ll also come across some quotes from Lacy’s book, Pilgrim Principles! It’s only $2.99 and can be purchased through the Snippet app in the App Store.
What needs some Spring Cleaning in your internal or external life right now? How can you live more fully and deeply? What needs to be stripped away for that to happen?