True confession: I’m not a big fan of Lent, mostly because I rarely come up with a Lenten practice that feels like it’s going to make me a better person. That might sound like a heresy when I see it in print, but it’s true. It’s also a little embarrassing. The question, “What are you going to give up for Lent?” reminds me of New Year’s resolutions – all good intentions with little hope of actually having an impact.
Call me a pessimistic Lenten practitioner.
This year, my best intention is to take some time during these 40 days to clear out part of our basement. It is a cluttered place of leftover paraphernalia and unnecessary “stuff.” Things like an old rusty toolbox, an ancient exercise bike, a shoebox full of telephone cords, curtain rods, a big box of extension cords, and some overly large serving trays that we will probably not need. We all have space like that, filled with things we just can’t bring ourselves to get rid of, because, who knows, you just might find the matching placemat that is missing from the set.
I hope that this Lenten exercise of simplifying and down sizing will be transformative. At the least, I expect to feel virtuous when I finish dragging out boxes of treasures, and creating new, clean, open space. After all, I believe in the adage: “less is more.”
The Church’s tradition during Lent is that we do three things:
- we fast,
- we pray,
- and we give alms.
My fast is from doing things I’d rather do and giving time to this project which I don’t really want to do. My prayer is that this Lenten practice will indeed be a small transformation for me. The almsgiving is that some of this material that occupies the basement could be donated to a Thrift Store or Goodwill to benefit others.
Less is more
Less is more when I fast from things that clutter my life and I am more open to see that goods are not goals. Less is more when I engage in less activity so that I am more available to notice God’s activity in my life and more free to pray. Less is more when I can let go of material goods so that more people might benefit from my having less.
Three words of Jesus that come to mind:
When you fast do not look gloomy (Matthew 6:16). When you pray, go to your room in secret (Matthew 6:6). When you give alms, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (Matthew. 6:3).
Dear God, help me to be happy with less so that others might have more. Help me to be less busy so that I can create a space for more prayer. Help me to be open to your transformation. Amen.