Lent is Coming!
One year my daughter gave up soda for Lent. The rest of the family thought it was a way to get out of really giving anything up, since we didn't drink soda in our house. Sure enough, though, she had day after day after day of unanticipated temptation. We've never had so many parties and special events. To her credit, she stood by her resolution.
Why do we give things up for Lent? Why is fasting such a central part of the season? On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we are supposed to refrain from snacks, have one large meal, and two small meals. Fasting on bread and water one day a week is a common practice. Of course, there's always the coffee, chocolate, and sweets that have become traditional practice.
Have you ever thought that we are giving up some of the essential things in our lives so that we can remember what is truly essential? Have you ever intentionally gone without something, only to realize what a gift it is to have it at all?
I think that's why prayer and almsgiving (charity) go hand in hand with the practice of fasting. It is only in prayer that God speaks to us about the gifts He wants to give us. It is in prayer that we can gratefully approach the One who sustains us. When we have a glimpse of all that we have received, it is only natural for us to respond generously to others.
I don't think that Lent is really a time of emptiness or lack. I think it's a time to get rid of the things that get in the way of our discovering and receiving the incredible bounty laid in front of us.
Lent starts next week. What will you give up? What will you add? What is God asking of you this Lent?