I first learned about Lent in first grade lunch line.
Growing up in the Midwest on a farm that raised beef cattle, pigs, and chickens, I’d never had a fish stick in my life. So I wasn’t sure what we were being served or why, especially two times in one week—Wednesday AND Friday.
When I asked my mom, she told me it was in respect for the Catholic students in our school who can’t eat meat on Friday during Lent. End of answer.
Fast forward to seventh grade when my classmates from the Lutheran church were complaining about what they had to “give up” for Lent now that they were in confirmation.
This time, I learned that Lent is over at Easter.
Though I was curious about Lent, I never looked it up, though I kept my ears open if I heard anyone mention Lent. Then our family joined a church that observed Lent. This gave me the opportunity to discover more about this season of the Church year.
I pondered how giving up meat on Fridays or foregoing candy for six weeks would make celebrating Easter more special within my spirit. But I never made a commitment to “give up” anything during Lent.
But this year, as I began to put away the Christmas decorations, I decided to leave the lights and non-living garland up until the weekend before Ash Wednesday. I also determined to limit my television viewing in the evenings so that I could enjoy the soft glow of the lights.
Which led to having more time to read. And pray. And contemplate.
As I packed away the lights and snowmen, a prompting from the Holy Spirit urged me to keep it simple.
With room for God to fill.
So my empty containers remind me that this Lenten journey is a season to make room for God, His Son and the Spirit.
That expectant waiting has begun.
The invitation to “Come and Find the Quiet Center” is extended to you.
Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed:
clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see
all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.
Silence is a friend who claims us, cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us, knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking, lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking, finding scope for faith begun.
In the Spirit let us travel, open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel, celebrate the space we gain:
there’s a place for deepest dreaming, there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming there is always room to spare!
Shirley Erena Murray
Words © 1992, 2005 Hope Publishing Company