I have to admit I have been a scoffer as to lent. It never made sense to me. How could giving up meat, or whatever you choose to do without, actually help you spiritually? Wouldn't it just make you obsess upon whatever it is that you were missing.
Today my mind turned the kaleidoscope and I suddenly had a new perception of this previously strange time of year to me. Lent isn't about what you give up. You could give up anything. Anything at all. It really doesn't matter. Lent is about learning something about yourself. It is about pushing you outside of your comfort zone, about finding that you are stronger than you thought. About learning that you can live without some things, even if you don't want to. And sometimes it is about learning what you can live with. It is meant to take you spiritually to a place where you can see exactly what is important in your life. It is clearing the chaff from your mind and your body so that you emerge a better version of who you were before. You can give up many things for lent, but if you do not do it knowing why, knowing what you wish to achieve, it is all for naught.
The giving up of something for lent is symbolic, but perhaps we as human beings need that symbol. You take that one thing, and you channel all the things you don't like about yourself into it, and you cast it away. The fact that lent repeats each year seems to be a lesson too... the doubts and hurts of a life time cannot be cast away in a day - or even a month. They are like weeds in a cultivated garden. Even should you manage to purge them all, they always return. A cultivated garden must be tended or the beauty is lost.
Seems like a good analogy . And yet, while I appreciate that cultivated garden I have always been someone who loves the wild garden... the idea of effortless beauty and freedom. I have always scoffed at that tended garden, just a little. Told myself it's beauty was artificial. And yet today I am forced to realize that even the wild garden's beauty comes from balance in the environment. And though I have always sought balance in my life, it is a tricky thing to maintain.
Perhaps it is time to tend my wild garden... just a little... so that the balance is restored and peace and beauty - and yes, freedom - are restored. Perhaps, though it may seem beyond a little strange for those who know me well, I will observe what is left of lent this year. Either way, I I think it is time for some spring cleaning of heart and home.