Today is the final day of Lent – the last moment of quiet contemplation as we wait for the Easter season to begin. Yesterday I wrote about the season of waiting and how that time is intended to be transformative, but sometimes knowing we are meant to transform doesn’t translate to the actual act of transformation. What role do we need to play in our own growth and change?
Some friends of mine spent their 40 days of lent posting daily photos for #LiveLent to represent a series of words/ideas. I was inspired by the images over and over, but no picture was as transformative for me as the moment I watched Miss G. stand calmly in front of her entire school during a special assembly and heard her speak these words so eloquently:
“Today we know Lent as a season of sacrifice. We see the ways we have turned away from the goodness in our lives and we focus on turning our mind and hearts back. We use the traditional pillars of Lent (prayer, fasting and almsgiving) to help us turn away from whatever has distracted us. Giving up something or sacrificing something for Lent is really a form of fasting. We can deprive ourselves of some small pleasure or treat and offer that as a sacrifice. But Lent isn’t about senseless sacrifices; it’s about meaningful ones.”
Meaningful sacrifices. What kind of sacrifice will be most meaningful for me?
Two weeks later she spoke again at another school assembly. This this time I didn’t get to hear her in person, but she brought her part home for us to hear. In it is another seed to discover the meaning of “meaningful sacrifice”:
“Look at your heart. Is it hard for you to give away something? Do you sometimes like to keep everything to yourself? Do you ever let something be the reason for bad feelings or bad words between you and someone else? If you remember a time when something like this happened, remember how your heart felt. Then, open it up to the good that wants to be there instead…”
Hearing simple wisdom spoken with such a young earnest voice makes it all the more meaningful. Suddenly my own journey became clear. I don’t struggle to be generous with things – sharing comes easily to me. The thing that I tend to hold onto, though, is a feeling of frustration when I feel let down by others. I hold myself to a very high standard, and I tend to do the same for everyone around me. When people don’t live up to my expectations I have a hard time letting go. For me, meaningful sacrifice in Lent is giving up the frustration that does no good for anyone. It’s time to remember that feelings of frustration make a heavy heart; I can choose to open my frustrated heart up to patience and understanding instead… Giving up frustration and negativity can only make room for something better. Simply put (and one of my favourite quotes):
“If you judge people you have no time to love them.” (Mother Teresa)
I can’t imagine a world without it… It’s time to relent.