Lent. I really had no idea what it was . The extent of my knowledge was that people tended to give up chocolate or sodas. I had zero interest in knowing why.
Last year as we approached February and were now attending a Lutheran Church, I realized that we were going to "do Lent". At least I was. I wasn't going to push it with my family since I felt like I was wading in uncharted spiritual territory. As Ash Wednesday approached, I looked at the calendar and realized that Mike was going to be out of town that night. Oh man. I felt a bit of dread. I so wanted to understand Lent and the ashes and be in community with others observing (not doing!) Lent, but the thought of entering the church alone and receiving ashes was intimidating. I really had no idea what to expect.
I stepped out of my comfort zone and went. I knew that our church was "safe" and I didn't need to do anything there that I didn't feel comfortable with. And really all of my memories of that evening are blurred. The memory is that Ash Wednesday is humbling and that I wept a lot. I don't remember the words spoken, the songs sung, or the prayers that were prayed. I remember the fact that all of it opened up some deep sensate part of me and the tears just would. not. stop. And I was perfectly fine with that. I felt near to Jesus and His Spirit was tender.
As we progressed through the Lenten season, I ached for Wednesday evenings. I didn't even know what I was aching for...it was some deep spiritual ache that I couldn't name. A desire to feel my smallness and obscurity and yet to realize the intimate way He loves and sees me. A desire to be vulnerable with all my sin and brokenness and know that He forgives and accepts me. A desire to know the reality of the Cross that was coming and the ugliness of it all. On Maundy Thursday my feet were washed at church. More humility, tears and a tangible act of the tenderness of Jesus. Good Friday I was sobered and silenced by the darkness and its reality. I was feeling ready and hopeful and in need of Resurrection!
I awakened on Easter morning filled with joy. LIFE! I have been given life! His life for mine! Death and sin conquered! Brokenness healed! For the first time at Easter, I received a deep and amazing sense of His completed work on our behalf. Before this season, Easter was really a date on the calender for me to think about getting a new outfit, throwing together some goodies in a basket for my kids and thinking through a good dinner menu. I had really missed out.
So this all brings me to this year. I was really inspired to bring my family along on the journey now. I made a Lent table on Monday filled with symbolism and a few ideas from this post. Candles and rocks and purple ribbon and a crown of thorns and the basket of flour to represent dust...eggs to draw on with Sharpie pens as a way to pray. I made purple paper chains to represent the days of Lent along with a green link for Palm Sunday, red for Passover, blue for Maundy Thursday, black for Good Friday and Saturday and white for Resurrection Sunday.
For my personal devotional time, I am using this Lent Journal and reading the book Simplifying the Soul. I am also planning on reading Hands Free Mama and Praying In Color. Following a few Lenten playlists on Spotify is another way to add in theology and beauty and worship and is a daily centering place for me.
A few links:
Another fun place to visit is Christine's art journaling journey through Lent.
If you are interested in a Lent filled with acts of generosity, join in on the joy at this website!
A nice list of resources are compiled here for an easy reference.
Elizabeth's book lists for children always help guide me on how to connect these sacred days to my kids.