Lent Begins

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 or so days until Easter. We went to evening service tonight. The last time I scanned in all the pages of the bulletin from one of our church’s services it wasn’t exactly a wildly popular post, so I’ll refrain. THIS TIME ahaha. I find examining the differences of doctrines and religious practices to be quite fascinating without any bells and whistles (i.e. the black and white printed bulletin on plain paper). But this is a glog; heavy with bells (pictures!) and whistles (jokes! or at least a bad pun or a double entendre or two) so I’ve picked out the highlights from the service/message. The cover of the bulletin this evening read…

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

A notion taken from Ecclesiastes 3:20 which reads:

All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. (Ecclesiastes 3:20)

I was immediately reminded of one of our favorite posts (Hamlet for Babies). Here is an excerpt from that post to illustrate why…

"is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?"

“is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?”

Hamlet was grappling with the idea of our earthly worth. Perhaps if Hamlet were a gardener he would not be so conflicted on the worth of a person’s temporal life…

Fine dirt sounds pretty good to me! I try not to take the “earthly” things too seriously. We’re not really supposed to love money or possessions or measure our worth by our accomplishments, deeds or assets. I’m really nothing more than dirt here on earth. A speck of dust. Only in Christ is there value, joy and everlasting life and anything truly significant.

The idea of “giving up” something earthly for Lent I think is meant to disrupt your routine to focus on personal repentance in light of the suffering and death of Christ. But when I think about possibilities of something to restrict (sugar? caffeine?) such things seem SO insignificant in relation to the actual point of Lent…

“…a holy season of prayerful and penitential reflection…a time of special devotion, self-denial and humble repentance…” (taken from the church bulletin)

I mean, Jesus was fasting ALONE in a desert (with nary a garden for miles!). He couldn’t lament to his coworkers or friends about how much he missed food. He was alone. With only God (and the Devil) for company. Quite a far cry from sharing your “sacrifices” with all your friends and family, “Woe! I miss Dr. Pepper so much.*” Even if the sacrifices/restrictions have good intentions, i.e.”I’m giving up procrastination!*” or obvious benefits, they don’t necessarily equal spiritual value or make one more reflective or repentant or humble (especially if you’re sharing them with everyone and their brother, see Matthew 6:16 on that!). I think restrictions and changes to routines definitely CAN have spiritual benefits, but I suppose I’m giving up: sharing what I’m giving up for Lent. HAHahaha

*Actual Lent “sacrifices I’ve heard people say. HAHAHahhaa

Please share in the comments your thoughts on how “giving things up” does or does not make you more spiritually mindful. Love to hear different perspectives on this!

6 thoughts on “Lent Begins

  1. narf77

    It is amazingly grounding to remember that we came from dust, and that we will return to it…it is also incredibly uplifting to know that we are made of stars and that God gave us all of this because he loved us so much :) The whole message of Easter in one fell swoop amounts to a small pile of dust :)

    Reply
  2. shelly

    I’ve reflected alot on your thought provoking post. Thank you for all the insight. I found myself to be one of those people who have been telling people what I’m giving up and after reading your article and searching why (through prayer) have realized it goes back to my sinful nature. Personally, I guess broadcasting sacrifices makes me feel better about myself. Fortunately, that sin was also covered by the perfect life and work of the Lord Jesus. But, as least, now I’m aware of it thanks to your article. :)

    Reply
    1. Spy Garden Post author

      It seems whenever we try to give up one vice, another one creeps in! Glad you liked the post! You are always so thoughtful and it is nice to hear of critical thinking involved with Lent, which I think is more so the point (than solely just giving up one “earthly” thing). I did think though that sometimes “broadcasting” sacrifices can be coming from a place of wanting to share your faith with friends/family. I guess we can do that in a way that includes the reflection/insight part and not the actual personal “sacrifices” we’re making? It is definitely an interesting and complex spiritual season. Have a good week, hopefully see you in church next Sunday!

      Reply
  3. Eliza Waters

    I think we learn best from contrast, so fasting increases appreciation for food and abundance normally enjoyed. It heightens awareness/mindfulness. It also serves to increase compassion and charity for those less fortunate. Like Kahlil Gibran states: “The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” A little bit (or a lot!) of suffering aids appreciation. Then Gratitude becomes a form of holy prayer.

    Reply

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