A decade or so ago, I learned (some things) about Lent. That it was for giving up things. (Then I wondered how in the world the Mennonites had missed out on this, since we have historically had a strong affinity for the sacrificing of person comfort!) "What are you giving up for Lent," I'd hear people ask one another. Desserts. Television. Chocolate. Cigarettes. (Some people gave up smoking and "chewed" instead; ummm, is that legit?) Or, in more recent years, facebook. I wondered about all this giving up. What was the point? Did people do it for "Lent" or for God? Did they know? Would it make any difference if they did? (Did God want all that stuff people were giving up?)
I'm still learning about Lent. Lent is a time of preparation that should make sense to Christians of all brands and styles. It is a time for getting oneself ready for all that is to come: the events of Holy Week culminating in the death of Jesus on the cross, and the celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Compared with Christmas, Easter is the event of events, the celebration of celebrations for Christians everywhere. And we (I) do so little to prepare. So, I'm rediscovering Lent.
But I'm not giving something up. Not exactly. I'm giving something.
I call it my Lenten List of Gratitude.
I started it a few years ago when I read something that challenged me to be grateful, to give thanks every day. No matter what. And to write my thanks. The list began during Lent. Daily I would watch for and record half a dozen gifts for which I was grateful.
Half a dozen. Not donuts to give up, but blessings to write.
I would give thanks to the Giver of every good gift.
I gave thanks for lunch with a friend, twizzlers, a long ramble with Youngest Mystery, steaming coffee, strength to clean, words from the Word, peaceful rain, the chance to sit in church beside Eldest, a washing machine that worked, bugles (all other snacks are pointless!) mail from Wondering Wanderer, and my thesaurus. By the time Easter rolled around and the stone was rolled away, I was adding #320 to my list: "'Love's redeeming work is done...' for me!" Easter had arrived and my Lenten List was finished.
So I began again, or rather, I continued. I found an empty notebook. And I am filling it. My pencil threads the beads on thin gray lines, row upon row upon row. It's been five years now, and I'm still gathering jeweled moments of gratitude. I have learned the pleasure of rejoicing in small delights (birdsong and boy sparkle) and overlooked gifts (electricity, which I added to my list the day we had none for a few hours). I repeat myself some days, but that's okay, so does God. His mercies are new every morning, (thank God!) and so is my coffee. This steaming mug of Breakfast Blend is not the one for which I gave thanks yesterday. This ice lace will be gone tomorrow; even an hour from the moment my eye first caught it's shimmer, the sun will have erased it's delicate beauty. So I see it now. And give thanks.
#4,598 Opportunity to write a blog post tonight...