Lent started yesterday--without the traditional Ash Wednesday service because of widespread power outages and wintry weather in the Houston area. Into the mix of COVID restrictions that have become routine but never "normal," we have added power losses, rolling blackouts, orders to boil water, barren grocery shelves, freezing temperatures outside, and near-freezing temperatures inside. Understandably, even the most Pollyanna-minded among us are starting to get a little jaded.
Such recent deprivation makes it tough to answer the perennial question, 'What are you giving up for Lent?' This year, that question is likely to be answered by a smirk or a smack instead of a thoughtful reply. Honestly, I've never found this to be the best approach to Lent, as I've written in years past.
Lent is less about giving something up for its own sake than it is preparing ourselves for the coming celebration of Easter. We do that through the traditional Lenten disciplines of repentance, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving--all of which remind us of our mortality, our sinfulness, and our need for grace. They also teach us to subdue our passions and focus on what is most important, God and others.
Perhaps this is the perfect year to get 'back to the basics of life' and Lent, focusing less on the modern question of 'giving something up' and more on the historic Lenten disciplines.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash