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Engaging in spiritual practices is ultimately about connecting with the Holy … in ourselves, in others, in the world around us, in all life. This season, you might choose from among this sampling of spiritual practices, categorized here according to the traditional Lenten disciplines.
Fasting – The practice of “giving something up” (like chocolate or coffee) is perhaps the most common association with Lent. The practice of fasting is really about abstaining, allowing an emptiness that we would ordinarily, unthinkingly fill; allowing a discomfort we would quickly remedy. It’s not about self-inflicted harshness, but rather an avenue for heightened awareness, connection.
Our appetites are not only food related. And some of them may have a hold on us more than we care to admit. So it’s about asking what attachments/ compulsions have a hold on me claiming my health, my time, my focus, my affection, my money in ways that don’t finally serve me or the people I love well? … and setting that aside this season … for a certain day of the week, or a portion of each day, or for 40 days.
Giving Alms – At the heart of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures is the call to care for the poor in our midst. Traditionally, the practice of “giving alms” entails giving money to the poor. So it’s about identifying people in need or organizations that care for and empower people who are poor that you would support financially. And there are multiple other ways, beyond money, to “care for the poor” … contacting someone who is lonely, for example, or visiting someone in prison, taking a shift at the Community Care Tent on Cook St. or joining the team delivering hot drinks or meals to unhoused people in the parks. Who do you see as you open your eyes to the world around you?
Prayer – If prayer is about opening to the One who makes your life run deep, who calls you Beloved, and calls you to love, who leads you toward others and not away, toward healing and reconciliation, prayer can be practiced in many ways. Sitting still, aware of the gift of your breath is prayer. Walking with a life question, making room for pondering is prayer. Pausing as you wake up or at day’s end, before falling asleep, and tuning into gratitude is prayer.
So also is the practice of creating a mandala -- see the guide available here.
Or the practice of praying with scripture – see the guide here.
Or the practice of writing a few lines of poetry prompted by a word provided each day of the season – see the guide here. a lenten journey through poetry – enfleshed