Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Trying to make Lent meaningful: #40Acts

"He went out to the field one evening to meditate"
Genesis 24: 63

I rarely post about my spiritual life - if you are a regular follower you probably know that I like to craft and sew, that I have children, that I do the odd thing for charity. But I am typically British and reserved about saying anything regarding my religious beliefs. Partly that is because this blog is usually not used as a personal diary, but sometimes I might just express myself a little more frankly, as a Christian. I'm not ashamed of my beliefs, but I certainly don't want to alienate the many people who come to read my blog with no interest in religious matters. Please don't be put off if you are yourself not a Christian. I'm not trying to convert you ;-)

Lent, in Britain at least, seems to me to have become a very shallow time for people to claw back their lost New Year resolutions. In other religions where fasting is involved, the fast is seen explicitly as an opportunity to purify oneself for spiritual purpose, not as a weight-loss tool with moral fringe benefits. I decided that I was not going to pointlessly give up chocolate or wine or whatever, but strive to think about what Lent might really be about. What are we really trying to do during Lent? Perhaps what we give up should be something important, like our time to those who need it, or give up a bad/pernicious habit. I did think I would give up social media but shouldn't that then be replaced with something you want to do, like spend time with family, or reading? In any case, my business is internet based so it seemed impossible!

Luckily just as I had reached that difficult point of not knowing what to do, a friend pointed me towards  40 Acts, a Lenten programme run by Stewardship UK. If you sign up, they will email you each day of Lent with challenges and reflection points. I am hoping to share some of my journey with you. You can also find participants by using #40acts on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

Act 1 is to create a journal where you write 
 - things you are thankful for today
 - a 'wish list' of the people that you would like to bless throughout the 40acts process

Today I am thankful for so much in my life. The sun has been shining on the garden and I feel so blessed to have the type of life which enables me to stop and enjoy the little things. Today I can see God's creation shine in simple wonder: the wild daffodils growing in the hedge, the smiles of my precious little boy. I know that so many do not have all the priviledges I have been afforded including some of you who might be reading this (and passing out from sheer schmaltz overload). There have been dark times in my life, and quite often a cloud will pass over the sun, but I have all the good things I could have ever hoped for and I hope that I never forget how lucky I am. 

Who would I like to send blessings to? Of course, my family are so precious to me. I could do more for my elderly grandmother who lives so far from here, I pray often for her continuing health and wellbeing. My community and the Church who actually does so much for keeping our village alive, although there are many who do not realise how fundamental the existance of the church community is to the life of the wider community. Finally, I sponsor a little girl in Burundi and my thoughts are often with her as she strives to get an education and help her family survive day to day. 

I wish you all a positive and productive Lent. If you are giving up chocolate I will pray for you - I know I couldn't do it.

Love from Lx
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