There is no lack of reflections about how to make this year’s Lent the Lent to beat all others. For some of us, it may seem more like “Groundhog Day” – here we go again. For others, it is to try again to prove that a strong will can conquer the body. Growing up, a “successful Lent” of giving up chocolate gave rise to pride and boasting. Not exactly in the spirit of the season.
Hopefully, we have grown past experiencing Lent as a challenge to be met and beaten. In this, however, we may have jettisoned Lent altogether, perhaps marking it with ashes today and wrapping it up on Easter with little else in between.
At least for us in the northern hemisphere, Lent coincides with the journey from the dark and cold of winter to the promise of warm days and new life emerging from the earth. This potential of new life, this hopeful expectation is what most draws me into Lent. I love Lent. It reminds me that I am not yet finished, that there is more to what God has in mind for me than what I now experience. But I must first listen. I need to find the time and the quiet to pay attention to the person God is inviting me to become.
There well may be some patterns in our life that get in the way of this listening, of praying. Too much TV, too many nights out, not enough time with family, late nights at work. These are well worth examining, not to prove we are spiritually tough enough but to open up the possibility of noticing deep within ourselves those signs of new life that are emerging like spring buds ready to burst open.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.