Lenten Fast

Painting by Sieger Koder, Washing of Feet
By: Diana Shellenberger

“Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as he left the River Jordan (after his baptism). The Spirit led him while he was in the desert where he was tempted by the devil for 40 days.” Luke 4: 1-2

As a youngster, my Lenten practice consisted of fasting from something I liked, maybe too much. Most often I refrained from visiting the ice cream parlor near my home that also sold my favorite candies. As a college student, the campus ministry hosted Wednesday night suppers, where we ate a simple meal of soup and bread, studied the Gospel and donated to a local food bank.

Both approaches are perfectly appropriate, especially when you combine them with making room for the Holy Spirit in your life. Over the years my Lenten practice has evolved into fasting from the relentless scheduling of my life. I’ve noticed the temptation to be busy and stay busy practically ensures the last order of business is connecting to the Holy Spirit.

In the busy lives most of us lead, the prospect of sitting down to pray or meditate can feel like yet another thing to overload your schedule. I argue it’s the first order of business against the culture’s incessant drive toward overdoing. I also understand that any new activity requires a lot of start-up energy you simply may be unable, or unwilling, to spare.

I suggest you begin exactly where you are—because that is where God meets you anyway—with the very busy-ness of your life. As you dress, as you travel to work, as you walk down the halls, as you cook and clean, try to remember to repeat God’s holy name within the silence of your heart. Try to remember to breathe, as you remind yourself that you are not even a breath away from God’s presence and God’s love.

You may find these tastes of quiet reverence inspire you to make more time for them, to fast, if you will, from another activity that is less urgent than you think. Before you begin your day, you can set a timer for five minutes and sit and simply feel and observe your breathing. One of my yoga students recently shared that she has developed a craving for these times of silent communion and now can’t imagine life without them. When you make these small steps, you are making time and space for prayer as well as making your very life into a prayer.

To begin Lent, you’re invited to join the congregation for the Ash Wednesday supper and service on March 6th at 6:00 pm in Plymouth Hall.

Peace be with you and in all you do this Lenten season.

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