Oh my gosh, here we are… already at the Lenten season. Wait! Don’t stop reading because of the word lent. I know from my work that many of us have wounds around our Christian roots. But don’t get turned off by the thought of lent. Let’s explore other perspectives of how Lent can be a benefit to each of us, no matter where we are on our spiritual journey.
Traditionally for Christians, lent is a time of year to reflect on the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness before he began his ministry and we were encouraged to give up something because he gave up his life for us.
Working for over thirty years for the Catholic Church, I ran the gamut of feelings on how I viewed lent. I began like many others, giving up stuff, because I was so wretched. After all, Jesus died for MY sins, the least I could do would be to give up something for 6 weeks, to… this is total bull-shit. People would give up something like alcohol to prove to themselves and others that they weren’t alcoholics because they could give up drinking for 6 weeks. Or they gave up their favorite… whatever, only to go back to their old habits as soon as Easter hit the calendar. I never really could see the benefits expect to reinforce our not being good enough. From the pulpit they preached… do more, give more, do without, do with less. But we were the people already doing that, so what came across was that no matter how much we did, gave and sacrificed, it clearly wasn’t enough.
But now, along my journey of self-discovery I began to see that everything has value, including lent. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means spring. Spring is a season of hope and new life. It’s a time when plants begin to bud, the food sources return, animals give birth and the days are longer. So let’s take a look at spring from the astrological perspective.
As the earth revolves around the sun, there are two moments each year when the days and nights are equal, once in the spring and once in the fall. Spring is the time of the vernal equinox. Vernal literally means fresh or new and equinox means equal.
Why am I telling you all this stuff? Because everyone, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey in life can benefit from paying attention (being mindful) to what’s happening around us. It doesn’t matter if one uses the words lent or vernal equinox, or spring. Everyone can benefit from taking time to pause in our lives.
Being an advocate for the benefits of self-care, I propose we incorporate some time for ourselves before doing anything for anyone else. Let’s dream for a minute. What if we gave ourselves the gift of time? What if we gave ourselves the permission to not give up anything or do anything for anyone else for six weeks? What if we did it for and to ourselves first? What if we gave to ourselves the acceptance, love and attention that we give to others? How would that look? How would that feel?
I think it would be pretty hard for most of us. Givers have trouble receiving and yet that is the complete circle of giving… being a gracious receiver. What if for the next six weeks we did something for ourselves each day?
I know, I feel you! You’re saying, “I can’t, I don’t have time, I don’t know what that looks… feels like.”
I’m with ya there! But, what if we simply began with the breath? What if we simply allowed ourselves five minutes to be alone with just our breath? What if we became one with the breath, followed the breath, made friends with and had gratitude for the breath, the very thing that gives us life… how would that feel? Four counts in… receiving… pausing at the top… in gratitude… four counts out… giving… releasing.
Now, that wasn’t so hard was it? And that can be all there is to beginning to give to yourself before giving to others. Now how do you feel? Probably like you have more to give now that you’ve given to yourself first.
Instead of giving from our substance like many of us were taught, we now can give from our surplus because we’ve taken the time to refuel and we’re all happier people simply because we’ve begun to be, understand, and love ourselves first. Clearly we can’t give what we don’t have and we can’t share what we don’t know.
So maybe this Lenten season could simply be six weeks… a beginning and ending… (which, personally I love), be a time to be more mindful in our living. Maybe it could be a time to pause, reflect and begin doing things a bit differently, like putting ourselves first. It’s not selfish… it’s essential.
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Article by: Pati Hope – Author, Founder & Executive Director of Evolve to Live
As the founder of Evolve to Live, a Nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Educational Outreach organization, Pati is fulfilling a long time dream. By creating this organization, she is bringing her extensive life experiences, skills as an author (three books and counting), inspirational speaker, transitional coach, energy healer and adventurer under one roof to benefit her clients and community. She is passionate about providing workshops, educational outreach, sessions and speaking to groups both large and small to share her insights and experiences. Pati embodies the mission of Evolve to Live, which is to “Embrace Change and to live life with renewed passion and joy!”
Books for sale: Evolvetolive.org/products