I am a big fan of 40-day journeys in any religion. And, while Mennonites used to eschew anything that seemed too much like a high church tradition, in my growing up years we began to explore the idea of Lent with more and more fascination. I don’t always choose something to give up, and I don’t always go about it very intentionally, but I like to mark the season, to be aware of the changes in the world and in myself during these 6 or 7 weeks, to be a cheerleader for others who are walking this journey with deliberation and intention.
In the solar year of 360-odd days, you can divide that up into eight roughly equal pieces of pie, which are all about 45-ish days in length. It is no surprise that we seem to choose 40 days as our time period for initiation journeys that lead to personal transformation. I like to live by those seasonal segments. And Lent, like Ramadan, is a floaty sort of journey, never at the same place in the year. Mysterious. Moon-chosen. While I can trust to the regular rhythms of Solstices and Equinoxes and their cross quarters, Lent and its riot of a starting party, Mardi Gras, jump out of nowhere with a bright “aha”!
I know why people repudiate Lent, and I can understand the concern with the “I’m a worm” sort of processing that sometimes gets attached to it. I believe in the free spirit, the hopeful soul, in loving and treasuring our own selves. But things can always be interpreted in so many ways, and I think Lent can be a powerful time of remembering our place in the cosmos and our connection to Radical Love. It’s a chance to re-set our habit life, to Choose to live with intention, rather than to be slaves to our addictions. And this can be a joyful experience.
I did not set out to write this with a specific Lenten Intention for this year, but as I have been writing, two ideas have begun to crystallize. They are both related to the general theme of Self-Care that seems to have worked its way into my story at this time. I try to work with these things in everyday life, but perhaps giving them the weight of Lenten Intention will help me to establish them more clearly in my living.
One has to do with my relationship to Things. Periodically, I have gone through periods of time when I try to give away at least one thing every week. This Lent, I will try to go through the house every day and choose at least one thing to give away. It will serve to de-clutter the house, but also to help me re-set my attachment to stuff.
The other has to do with eating joyfully. Last night I shared a joyful meal with friends who are leaving the country for several years. I want to make memories around tables. I want to deepen and expand my understanding of the powerful connection between the Earth and my body. I want to become ever more attuned to what nourishes me, body and spirit.
Whether or not you make a specific journey this Lenten season, I wish you the power of your intentions, the hope of new life springing forth, the embrace of Radical Love, and a deeper connection to your own Source.