Monday, March 17th, 2014 – The Second Monday in Lent
Resuscitation vs. Resurrection
Lent is a time in which we prepare ourselves for the resurrection. Many prepare by following a fast of some kind, giving up a behavior or favorite item for 40 days. Others add something to their lives such as active prayer and meditation, volunteering, saving money for donation, being especially cheerful with others or spotting extra opportunities to help others anonymously [I’m told three acts of humble/anonymous giving a day is the norm]. Still others use this time to take inventory of their strengths and weaknesses, seeking feedback and suggestions from those who know them well and who can offer guidance. Everyone has their own practice set aside for Lent.
I admit that most years I have chosen a practice that was meaningful for me, gritty, a practice that made me more aware of how often I can live on automatic pilot without taking the gifts of my life for granted; taking God for granted. Other years I have been at a loss to find something meaningful so I cut back on coffee consumption [which may have increased my Diet Coke consumption, thus diluting the practice]. One very difficult year filled with failure, loss and profound grief, I was advised to add a luxury to my life as a Lenten practice. Acclimated to living a hairshirt existence, adding the luxury was an agonizing act of surrender.
Our tradition tells us to enact these things. The spoken reason is preparation for resurrection through small deaths and experiencing our lives through the lens of 40 days of fasting from something. What about intention? Our approach matters a great deal. Do I approach my Lenten action thinking: “It’s only forty days. I can do this for forty days. Besides, I heard that I can take Sundays off for good behavior!” Or do I approach my Lenten action with meditation and attention to how I am affected, changed, challenged by my choice? Do I miss what I have given up? Do I avoid discomfort or do I lean into it?
There is a difference between Resuscitation and Resurrection.
We view these Lenten practices as small deaths with the hope of experiencing resurrection, joining Jesus in his journey. Change, a small death, without growth and learning is resuscitation. On Easter Monday we get back to normal, we resume the standard we lived by before Ash Wednesday.
Change with awareness, ripeness and emergence another layer of consciousness is Resurrection.
Questions for today: How am I attending to my Lenten practice? How does my Lenten practice bring me closer to God? To others? Does it separate me? What do I notice?
– Melissa Perrin, Area psychologist and Episcopalian