By Kristen Johnson
I am suffering from an acute case of laryngitis, which of course has kept me off the job – a job that I’ve had for only three weeks. A little reflection on the start of Lent has made me ashamed of my pettiness and grateful for my many blessings.
The Upper Room (my favorite online devotional and prayer website) has a lovely article titled “Lent 101” that talks about what Lent is exactly, the history and importance of Ash Wednesday, and what we can do during Lent to draw closer to God. (To read this wonderful article, see here: http://www.upperroom.org/lent101).
I was most struck by the list of 10 suggestions that we can do to observe Lent. Many people choose to give things up, or to add things in such as devotionals or community service during Lent. The two suggestions that really struck me today:
- Create a daily quiet time. Spend 10 minutes a day in silence and prayer. Read a daily devotional for the season of Lent. See how it can help you add spiritual practice to your daily life beyond Lent.
- Cultivate a life of gratitude. Write someone a thank you letter each week and be aware of how many people have helped you along the way.
In our busy lives of work, family obligations, and electronics buzzing, it seems like 10 minutes of prayer and gratitude are impossible. But, in my case anyway, it seems like God is specifically calling me to do just that. I am so concerned about doing “well” at my new job that my health is suffering as a consequence. Perhaps my annoying illness is God telling me to slow down and focus on my relationship with Him for a few minutes a day.
It’s interesting to note that a friend at Church mentioned to me that she was going to focus on prayer and meditation for a few minutes a day during Lent and I told her I liked the idea. I guess sometimes we have to be almost smacked in the head by God before we listen! (Maybe my being laid up in bed on Ash Wednesday is my head smack!)
My prayer during Lent, and on this important Ash Wednesday, is to take 10 minutes a day for quiet silence and prayer, and to continually live with gratitude. Perhaps this is silent reflection on the way home from work and posting a gratitude list on Facebook every few days. Perhaps this is sitting at the kitchen table in silent prayer before going to work, and counting my blessings while walking the dogs. Perhaps it is remembering to tell my spouse, friends, and family members how much I love and appreciate them every day. Perhaps it is all of these things.
My laryngitis feels better already – perhaps my curse is really the blessing I am starting to think it is.
I am praying for a meditative, peaceful, reconciling season of Lent for all.
Joel 2:12-13 (NRSV): Yet even now, says the Lord,return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.
Serve all with love.
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