Today is the last day of the Season of Epiphany. It is Mardi Gras, the day to say "laissez les bon temps roulez" (let the good times roll), also known as Fat Tuesday (time to use up all the fat and wheat in the house, so how about some pancakes or a King Cake?), or Shrove Tuesday (time to say your confession - be shriven - before Lent begins tomorrow). The season of light gives way to the season of penitence and preparation for renewal, a season of cultivating a deepening spiritual life by way of discipline, study and prayer.
I suppose that going hog wild today would make one start out the season of Lent appropriately penitent, but that's not the route I plan to take. I hope to spend some of the day really thinking about how I plan to spend Lent (and eat some pancakes for supper).
One often gives something up for Lent (fasting). Notice that some of the fast food eateries are now offering either meatless or fish options to assist the faithful in their giving up of meat, a perennial favorite Lenten discipline. Others take something on for Lent, a discipline of prayer, reading, reflection, doing good deeds, that sort of thing.
The truth is that Lent is my favorite season. For whatever reason, Lent seems to coincide with times I need to be doing some deep prayer and study and contemplation because of Big Things going on in my life at the time. And so I have often felt that Lent is a time to mine the tradition, to mine my relationship with God and others. It is the time I dedicate myself to what I know is good for me - study, prayer, discipline. And also I know that it has a temporal limit. I am not promising to do this for the rest of my life. Just for the next forty days. Some of it will sink in and become part of me, some of it should but won't. No matter, though, for another Lent will come.
One thing I plan to do during this Lent is to be intentional about posting appropriate prayers and reflections here; I invite you to join me (and bring along a friend or two) for daily morning and evening and night prayer along with something to think about for the day on the theme of feasting and fasting, taking on and giving up. I welcome and encourage your comments and discussion!