I have compiled my list of Do’s and Don’ts for the 40 days of Lent.
1. Don’t eat desserts or snacks.
2. Do pray for someone or something everyday using the Lenten calendar template or some other drawing format.
3. Don’t play computer Scrabble.
4. Do something small, but courageous every day–even if it’s just Look in the mirror! or Say “hi” to a stranger.
5. Do practice silence–both alone and in the company of other people.
This year’s list is smaller than last year’s list, but maybe doable. Last year the list was excessive-as I knew it would be. But I like to give myself options (or maybe more accurately, outs).
I love the discipline of Lent. For two-score days, Lent gives me permission to not apologize for giving serious attention to my journey with Jesus. Why would I have to apologize at other times? Without the structured time frame and the community assent, I’m not spiritually mature enough to take the wilderness walk alone.
Lent doesn’t feel like deprivation or obligation to me. It feels like an opportunity for course adjustment or a re-ordering of my life. There’s nothing wrong with desserts or computer Scrabble, except when my attention to them is out of kilter. Lent is the time I ask God to give me a tune-up and to realign my spiritual chassis. God gives me an annual detailing job–one I usually try to avoid.
During Lent I let Psalm 51 in: “Purge me from my sin, and I shall be pure; wash me, and I shall be clean indeed.” (Psalm 51: 8 BCP) I love the way The Message says it: “Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.” Giving up desserts and Scrabble are just some small gestures I make to warm up for the big ways in which God really wants to clean me up.