Every year, I have a horrible time coming up with something to do for Lent.
For the non-Catholics reading this weblog, Lent refers to the 40 days before Good Friday (the day Jesus died) which we use as a time of spiritual inventorying and deeper reflection. The church encourages us to take on some extra practice during this time as a means of drawing closer to God, typically in the areas of prayer, penitence, or charity.
The easiest of these, of course, is penitence, and that’s why you hear people talk about “giving up something for Lent” as if that’s their only option. But most people find that praying more or taking on a charitable work is more likely to draw them closer to God.
Being who I am, of course, I can never come up with Just The Right Thing to do for Lent. And then after that, I suffer from Lent Creep (where the Right Thing To Do begins expanding on me.)
A couple of years ago, utterly stuck, I asked my guardian angel, “So, what do you think I should do?”
I suddenly remembered what the priest says on Ash Wednesday when you get your ashes: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
I thought, “I’m supposed to be doing that anyhow.”
Then I heard in my head, “Bible.”
And here I thought I’d be told to give up chocolate! No such luck. So instead, I read through three of the Gospels and a few of the epistles during Lent. The next year, I went further afield and did some non-Bible spiritual reading, and that’s what I did last year as well.
This year, I think it’s back to the Bible. I can get in 40 minutes of prayer every day, but for some reason it’s tougher to get the Bible reading done, probably because I need it to be quiet in order to concentrate on that, and, well… I have four kids.
Yesterday, though, I had a thought. If writing is my vocation, shouldn’t I somehow work on my vocation through Lent? Isn’t my vocation something that should draw me closer to God?
Therefore, I thought, it would be good and proper for me to make my Lenten devotion finishing up ♥My Book♥.
My Patient Husband said, “no way,” and I’m going to go along with that for a simple reason: because I intended to finish it by mid-April anyhow. Making that my Lenten practice would be like saying I was cooking for my family for Lent.
But in a way, it also makes sense, and I’m not entirely sure I’m not onto something. If God wants us to grow to our fullest potential, then it’s fully within the Lenten spirit to devote ourselves to doing it. Even if we find that thing enjoyable. Even if it was something we were going to do anything — as long as we do it single-heartedly.
Just a thought. I still haven’t unPaused literarily, although I’m going to push myself to do it soon. I’ve got the second half of the book mapped out in a document now. I just need to come up with the next scene, and I’ll be writing again.
Well, in and among all that praying and reading and the fish and stuff. Happy Lent! (And don’t forget your lenten penitential donuts!)