Lent has been practiced among groups of Christians for millennia but anyone can take advantage of this period of time and reap benefits from the proverbial 40 day journey.
Primarily known for being a season of fasting and penitence, Lent begins each year on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday – the day before Easter Sunday. This year, Ash Wednesday is February 10 and Holy Saturday is March 26.
The word “Lent” evolved from lengthening and refers to the hours of increasing sunlight. It’s the time, just before spring, where you begin to see new growth in the natural world. Below are three ways you can tap into and take advantage of that energy field to make positive changes in your life.
- The most common Lenten practice is to give something up. Any extended period of wanting or longing for something can help us begin to truly see and appreciate the abundance in our lives. Each year, in our family, we focus on removing things from our diet. We generally try to abstain from white flour, dairy and sugar and also refrain from eating any type of animal products on Fridays. With a little planning you can make it work. It’s not easy but it’s not supposed to be easy. Consider what you might give up during this season. It could be a small indulgence of something you take pleasure in or a poor habit you’ve wanted to shake—like smoking.
- Get your house in order. According to Wikipedia, spring-cleaning has been traced back to the ancient Jewish tradition of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime feast of Passover. Additionally, whale oil, kerosene, wood and coal used to be the main sources of light and heat and would leave traces of soot and grime throughout the residence. Springs arrival was a time to throw open the windows and doors to remove the muck and grime. While we have electricity and cleaner heating sources today, it’s still a good idea to purify your home of all the toxins brought about from being closed up during the long winter season. You could start with a solid de-cluttering and finish up with a good deep clean.
- Create a vision quest. Maybe you need answers on which direction to take in your life or maybe you’ve just come through a very trying experience and wish to memorialize the occasion, sort of like a rite of passage. It could also be that you just feel the need to reconnect and regain your sense of wonder. Whatever your reason, a vision quest is a great way to sanctify your adventure. Fasting, solitude and nature are the three core elements associated with a vision quest, which serve to bring about a heightened state of awareness. Your quest could be as grand as taking a sojourn of solitude in nature or as modest as creating a sacred space around your home to start a journaling or meditation practice. The possibilities are endless – just have fun with it.
In today’s age of instant gratification, making a strong commitment and promise to yourself may be even more important than it used to be. Whatever you decide, Lent should be a time of reflection and simplicity with a focus on appreciating the goodness that is all around you. By doing this, you’ll experience a different kind of rebirth come springtime.
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Tammy Batcha is a life-long resident of the Shenandoah Valley. A long-time commuter, she seeks to reconnect to her community. A board certified, health and wellness coach, she continues to study integrative nutritional theory while guiding others on a path to wellness.