Sunday, February 26, 2017

Observing Lent: Obligation or opportunity

Joyce Sasse - Many of my friends observed Lent when I was a kid. There were weighty obligations connected with the fasting and praying and confessions.

However, over the seven weeks of Lent they had “days off” (Sundays and St. Patrick’s Day) when the rules were relaxed and their steps lightened.

As my understanding of Lent deepened, I began to see Lenten practices to be less of an “obligation” and more of an “opportunity”. Before I retired I declared this was a time to “give up stress”, and I really tried to carve a niche in an over-busy schedule to find some stress-free moments.

These days with the heaviness of health issues, plunging economics, shifting weather patterns … all of us could do with a little time-out.

When the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel grows dim and we can’t even keep up with our own expectations, wise advice comes from safari-porters hired to carry huge loads. From time to time they simply stopped where they were and refused to move. Why? Their answer “We can’t go on: we have to wait for our souls to catch up with us!”

Lent gives us opportunity to find our own way to stop and let our soul catch up with us. In the dark of a sleepless night, start thinking about the blessings you haven’t appreciated – and say thanks. Instead of fussing over what you didn’t do, or you did wrong, take a moment to share and exchange with a child, or notice something special in nature. Wait, and let your soul catch up with you.

Lent is meant to give us opportunity to feel enriched by God-given moments in our lives. Lay down your burdens and let your soul catch up with you. Begin the practice and before long you might even find that moment-making can become a habit! God bless.

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