Sunday, March 18, 2018

Deepening our understanding of Lent

Joyce Sasse - As I learn more about the practices associated with Ramadan, which marks the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, I think more deeply about how I approach Lent.

During the month of Ramadan, which will occur May 15 to June 14, 2018, a practicing Muslim is expected to fast from sunrise to sunset (i.e. to give up food). In the book “The Faith Club”, one man speaks about how this affects his life. “We exercise discipline and attempt to cleanse mind, body and soul of vices and bad thoughts.”

“On the first day of a fast” he goes on “(my) mind generally focuses on hunger pains and physical cravings. But with each successive day, as the body realizes its needs won’t be met, each function, including the heart and mind, slows down. One gains a new type of awareness … All senses are heightened. The body becomes light. And in that state one becomes more open to the spiritual world.”

This description has given me great respect for any who are trying to become more spiritually alert. It embarrasses me, in the light of this other person’s level of commitment, to think of my own puny tokenistic attitude toward how to fast. Lent offers Christians a period of time, should we take it seriously, to try to reawaken ourselves physically and spiritually. By establishing some discipline of “fasting”, we have opportunity to re-focus ourselves, to seek a deeper, more meaningful way of opening ourselves to the God-given world within and around us.

Even this late into the Lenten season, choosing to make an intentional sacrifice would help prepare me to more positively experience the gifts of Easter. I would like to seek out deeper feelings of peace and fulfillment so I can better appreciate how I am enfolded in God’s love.

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