Lent as Preparation

The word Lent, in it’s original language, means Spring. Spring as a time of growth and renewal is a refreshing change from winter but perhaps we might see it as preparation as well for the season of summer with all of its work, productivity, celebration and fruitfulness.

All great movements, like great stories, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning in a story might be a tale of origin. In movements, the beginning is defined by preparation. Take, for example, the story of the movement surrounding Martin Luther King Jr, itself a specific instance of the greater civil rights movement. King’s movements were almost always preceded by intense preparation, often in the churches of the communities he helped. This preparation was absolutely vital for, without it, the massive resistance to the movement could not be withstood. His speeches and direction, accompanied by mutual encouragement and conversation among the participants, prepared the people for the work they were about to do.

What in your life right now is worth preparing for? How can you prepare your self. Not just your body or your mind, but your essential humanity.

The Christian season of lent is modeled after the story of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness before he brought the gospel to the people, and that story, in turn, is modeled after the story of Moses spending 40 days on the Mountain before bringing the Israelites the law. These were major movements within communities that required preparation. But do we not face major events of life every year?

In a sense the personal mission of historical and/or mythical figures is made of central importance by their followers and perhaps also always obscured by the narratives handed down, again by the followers. I would not wish to trivialize or minimize the impact and example of their missions and great movements. However, I also do not want to minimize the impact and change each of us brings to our world. It’s profound and equally obscured by mundane circumstances instead of fanatic or devout followers. Is the fact that another person will be added to my family this year somehow less important then the events in the lives of Moses or Jesus? To you my readers I’m sure it is of less importance. And in a statistical sense it will probably mean less to far fewer people. However, to me, it is no less important and I would not consider myself a good father if I felt otherwise. I’m sure if you think about it, you could bring to mind those things in your life as well.

So here is my challenge to myself and please take this up if you feel so inclined. Use this season, from now till Easter, to prepare yourself for what is coming this year. I’m not speaking of self-improvement. That’s important but New Years already has it covered. I’m also not talking about preparation in the sense of to-do lists or buying supplies, or painting the house. I am challenging myself to use the internal disciplines that I would normally perform, or at least hear about, for lent, and to direct the intention of those disciplines toward preparing for what is coming this year, to strengthen my inner self and tap into my humanity. For me, that means removing distraction and having more time of stillness and quiet, both in the house (much less TV) and in my mind as well. I’m taking a fast, as much as I am able, from critical evaluation of people’s expressions. Critical thought is a good thing, so are TV shows (Parks and Rec reruns anyone?). But sometimes dissecting everything everyone says just takes over. I’m directing this intentional inward discipline toward preparing for what is to come.

If you don’t feel you have something this year bigger than yourself to prepare for, perhaps this is your opportunity to reflect and consider how you may change that.

I’ve already shared just one of the things that needs some internal preparation for me and that is the quickly approaching birth of a new baby. What is it for you and how will you prepare? Leave a comment.