I had a lot of difficulty deciding what to do for my Lenten discipline this year. In the past I've always given things up, usually foods. When I was in college, I danced competitively. In the last month and a half before our team competed each spring, we would all give up drinking alcohol and eating certain foods (like deep fried things or sugary sweet things) so that we would be in top condition when it came time for competition. So when I started observing Lent, it was like second nature to give up some of the foods I love for forty days. The problem, though, is that on Easter Sunday (like the day after competition) I would binge on whatever I'd given up. After only a week or two, the benefits of my abstinence would be completely undone. So what was the point?
So this year I've decided to take something on rather than give something up. I wanted to do something different than I'd done in previous years. But, more importantly, I wanted to do something that would continue to benefit me long after Easter morning has come and gone. And I wanted to do something that would be less physical and more spiritual. While there is something to be gained spiritually by abstaining from indulgent foods, it's not what I need the most this year. It's not what I need, given where I am in my life right now.
I made a resolution at the beginning of the year to attend Morning Prayer at church every morning. I haven't made it to a single reading yet. Primarily, my problem is how early Morning Prayer is read at our church.. particularly because we live twenty to twenty-five minutes away. It just isn't very convenient for me. So I decided to start observing the Daily Office (to include Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Early Evening Prayer, and End of Day Prayer) at home. I also borrowed two books on Saint John of the Cross from a friend that I'd like to read by the end of Lent.
I'm trying to take steps to put God at a more central position in my life. I just don't want to become one of those people who puts God away on Sunday afternoon until the following Sunday comes around. With very few exceptions, Sundays after the Eucharist are a time that I feel such peace. I want that feeling every day. I don't want one "Lord's Day" each week, I want SEVEN! And I want to develop a more spiritual life. I want to know God better and to know God's will better. Lent is just a place to start, the beginning of a much longer journey ahead of me.