Using a calendar template is one of my favorite ways to keep a daily discipline during Lent. The discipline can take three minutes or thirty. What matters is the daily regimen of participation and presence.
Each day I choose a word to ponder or a person to pray for. I write the word or name in the allotted space and draw or doodle around it. If words come to me as I draw I pray them. If not, I stay quiet. Returning to the calendar each day helps me to create a hallowed place where I can be present to God and listen. Each mark or stroke of color is a small movement prayer. It is a one day at a time, visual and kinesthetic way to have a Lenten practice.
The accumulation of words or peoples’ names is a visual tapestry of my mini spiritual journey through the forty-plus days of Lent.
Below are four templates to choose from in jpg or pdf form. Each calendar has 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 the spaces empty.) On the Cross Calendar, the spaces on the cross itself are part of the 46 count. The traditional Box calendar is dated; the Tears template suggests a path to follow. The other two allow you to move around and choose the space you want to use on a given day. Date them as you go. 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. Staying inside the lines is not a requirement! Add words or draw around the designated spaces.
Children can mark the daily walk through Lent with the calendars, also.
This is an example of a calendar from 2017. It includes the original blank template on the left (also available this year), the first few days of one calendar, and another finished version. Words on the third version came from daily meditations by Walter Brueggemann in his book: A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent.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, for example, is a penitential Psalm with lots of juicy (sometimes depressing) words in it.
5) Read a different Psalm each day and choose a word.
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, sorrows, and hopes around the Cross template one day at a time.
8) The Tears template provides space above the line at the top to mark the arrival of Easter. Write the word Easter and/or use words or a drawing/doodle in the space to reflect the mood of the passage from Revelation 21:4 (NRSV) “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more.”
Click on .jpg or .pdf below the desired template. Make sure to download the template with the downward facing arrow in the top right before you print. These are also available on the Handouts Page on this website.