Using a calendar template is one of my favorite ways to keep a daily discipline during Lent. It doesn’t involve making false promises to myself about sitting down for thirty minutes a day and praying/studying/meditating and then feeling guilty when I fail. On the calendar template I choose a word or name for each day, write the word in a space, and draw or doodle around it. As I draw I let the name or word fill my heart and mind. If words come to me I pray them. If not, I am quiet. I think of each mark or stroke of color as a wordless prayer. This process can take three minutes or thirty. Each day is different. I love the accumulation of words or peoples’ names in a visual tapestry.
Below are four templates to choose from in jpg or pdf form. There are 46 spaces which include Sundays. (Officially Sundays are not a part of the 40 days of Lent. So feel free to do something special for the Sundays, if you like–or leave them blank.) On the Cross Calendar, the spaces on the cross are part of the 46 count. One calendar is dated; the others allow you to choose your own path. Since the spaces are small I take the template to a copier and enlarge it (129%-132%) onto an 11″x17″ piece of card stock.
I confess: I’m first a doodler, then a colorer. I enjoy making marks–lines, dots, arcs, swirls, scallops, triangles–as much as I like adding color. Three of the templates allow you to do add your own doodles. The template with the Cross is new this year. There is also a coloring-page version of this new one where the doodles are drawn for you.
Here are some ways to use the calendars:
1) Pray for a person each day of Lent.
2) Use a daily book of Lenten meditations. Read the mediation for the day and select a word that jumps out at you. Meditate on the word as you draw and color around it. Let it enter your heart and mind. Ask God what you need to hear from the word.
3) Follow a daily lectionary and choose a word from one of the Scripture readings.
4) Read the same Psalm each day and choose a daily word. Psalm 51 is a penitential Psalm with lots of juicy (sometimes depressing) words in it.
5) Read a different Psalm each day and choose a word.
Here are a couple of ideas specifically for the Cross template but also useable for any of the others:
6) Use nouns or adjectives that describe the nature and character of Jesus: savior, redeemer, healer, radical, obedient, forgiving,…
7) Since Lent is a time for reflection and self-examination, scatter your confessions, character defects, regrets, worries, dreams, and hopes around the cross one day at a time. While I was making the cross template I remembered one of the first contemporary Christian songs I ever heard by Chuck Girard in 1975. It was called Lay Your Burden Down and the words seem apt for the cross calendar:
Lay your burden down, lay your burden down
Take your troubled soul, your tired mind
And lay your burden down
Lay your burden down, get your feet on solid ground
Take your worries to the foot of the cross, and lay your burden down.
Click on the word .pdf below the template. Make sure to download the template with the downward facing arrow in the top right before you print.
Cross Template on left and an Example of how to use it on right.
Cross Coloring-Page Template
Dated Box Calendar Template
(Check out April 22, 2011 for an example of a finished version of this calendar.)