I've had a few people ask me what I'm giving up for Lent.
As I understand it, lent is a time of preparation. A time for prayer, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial. It can also be a time when those who have separated from the church can rejoin the community. I was sad to have to miss Ash Wednesday services this year because I had to teach that night... I love seeing the alter stripped and bare and then full of life and decorated again on Easter Sunday. This is symbolic of the season of lent, stripping the non-essential and unimportant. By doing this, we are able to focus on the bare - what is important.
Stripping the alter is just the beginning. Lent is a personal journey - and in that journey, we should look both inward and outward. We take reflection on our lives, what is important to us, and how we bring Him glory. The outside is like the alter. We strip the non-essential, unimportant. For many, myself included, that includes a lot of what we think makes us who we are. Reality proves that very untrue. Lent is a time to confess that our clothes, cars, decorative finery, jewelery, etc... is not who we are. Those things do not define us. We are but dust, standing before the Lord.
This year, I am on a journey towards simplicity and contentment, and that means learning to live without things that I've ranked as 'important.' I'm not sure what that means right now, but this year, I'm not simply 'giving up' something, I'm taking this time to evaluate what is truly important. I'm using this time as a true journey. One that I hope I can look back on and smile, knowing that it somehow changed me - changed my perspective.