Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Go on VACATION for Lent!

Image: UUAA

For many folks, their favorite baseball determines the arrival of spring: the beginning of spring training; speculating on this year’s pennant possibilities; and the opening home game.

But in my field of dreams, spring comes when Lent arrives - and Ash Wednesday is tomorrow!

Actually, the word Lent finds its roots in the Old English word lencten which refers to the lengthening of days in the spring. But I realize that not everybody looks forward to Lent - especially those who see Lent only as a season of shadows and sacrifice, of “giving things up. “

To help us understand Lent in terms of the springtime all of us longing for, I invite you to think of Lent in terms of taking a vacation!

Imagine taking a 40 day vacation from some of the things that weigh you down, wear you out and deplete your spirit…

Imagine taking a vacation from the over-eating and over-drinking that many of us do. Holding back on consuming too much food and drink, and experiencing instead what it means to be hungry, what it means to want to be filled with something good, something healthy, something nourishing for the heart and soul… It’s hard to know our hearts’ real hungers on a full stomach… And imagine the money you might save on a vacation from consuming - and how you might offer that money to reach out and serve those in need…-

Image: ITBgames
Imagine taking a vacation from the couch or the chair in front of some screen (TV, computer, e-reader, smart phone, Wii, Xbox). Imagine taking a daily vacation from the machines that mesmerize and manage our time and spending that time, instead, with real, live people, at home or in the neighborhood or out with friends… Imagine a vacation that moves us from relating to machines to relating with human beings, our brothers and sisters in Christ…

Imagine taking a vacation from your schedule, your planner. Imagine setting aside an hour or a half hour every day to do some of the things you really like to do, the things that nourish you, the things that bring you peace, the things that feed your soul and spirit…

Imagine taking a vacation from the sounds, the voices, the music, the media, the background noise that is everywhere around us, often plugged into our ears… Imagine a vacation with moments of quiet, even silence… imagine sitting still for a while every day, or walking in a quiet place… imagine in the quiet that you might speak to God in prayer… imagine that perhaps in the quiet, you might hear God’s voice in your heart…

Imagine taking a vacation from wasted time and foolish pursuits and laziness and finding time to do some of the spiritual things you want to do but never seem to get around to… Imagine planning and having the time to participate in parish prayer and activities in Lent and in Holy Week… Imagine a vacation that draws you closer to prayer with the Church…

Image: SongBird
Imagine taking a vacation from all the busyness that keeps you from reaching out to others. Imagine making and having the time to call or write someone you should have been in touch with months, even years ago… Imagine making the time to get together with the people who bring out and nourish the best in you… Imagine going to the supermarket and shopping only for groceries to bring to church on the weekend for the baskets for the parish food pantry… Imagine having the time on your Lenten vacation to explore ways you might work with the parish in our outreach to those in need… Imagine having the time on this vacation to be more aware of and attend more carefully and personally to those in need in your family, at school, at work and in your neighborhood…

Imagine taking a vacation from whatever are your bad habits, from over-indulgence, from gossiping, from self-concern, from jealousy and envy, from junk entertainment, from grudges long held and resentments carefully kept, from silence used to punish and manipulate others…

Imagine taking a vacation from making your own circle of activity the center of the universe and finding, making the time to see God as the center of your life, your family, your friends, your work, your week…

And imagine that on this vacation you find time to grow in your love of God, to reach out to those in need, to pray more often, to live a better Christian life, to get to confession, to be more faithful in coming to Mass, to delight in those around you, to lose some bad habits, to become aware of those realities we can only come to know when we take a vacation from all the things that so easily run our lives…

Image: HG
Imagine taking a spring time vacation that refreshes your heart, cleanses your soul, opens you to God’s grace, brings peace to your relationships and wisdom to your choices… Imagine taking a vacation of forty days at the end of which you find yourself more the person God made you to be and more the person you want to be… Imagine taking a six week vacation that leads to a celebration of Easter, a celebration of leaving behind what gets you down, wears you out and depletes your energy and finding in its place new life and peace in the light of Christ who came that you might have joy - and have it to the full!

What will it be, then? We can look ahead to Lent as an extension of wintry burdens or as a spring vacation meant to refresh, revive and ready us for Easter. The choice is ours!

A good and happy Lent to you all!


 


 
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