Can you pick a Lenten Sacrifice from a hat?
My kids have been running around today singing “Lent, lent, it’s time to repent, because it’s lent, lent our wills they get bent, by what we’ve done and failed to do, but ask for mercy and He’ll give it to you. I'm reminded that I still haven't solidified my Lenten sacrifice for this year. How will I repent and ask for mercy? How will I grow in love and faith this year?
As I said yesterday I’ve really been struggling with how to make the most of this lent. Yesterday I prayed and read and prayed some more. I woke up this morning with a pretty good idea of what I planned to do for my Lenten sacrifice. I had read several things yesterday (unrelated to each other) that seemed to drive the same point home and then I read the following post from the Holy Hero's web site this morning.
“A priest friend sent us an email about Lenten penitential practices. He said it so well; I thought I should give it to you all to read.
"The Lenten penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are not intended as a covert season of self-improvement, or worse, a time of self-bashing because we are sinners (even though we are), but are instead intended to help create an ever-larger space within our hearts to love. The practices are focused on dying to self so that we are expanded in our capacity to love. We seek deeper conversion and deeper love. By denying ourselves some good, we die to ourselves a little, so that we can grow more in love of God and neighbor. We die to self to grow in love.""
As I read this I wondered was my decision to de-clutter and organize my house really a true Lenten sacrifice. I go back; I re-read what I read yesterday, those passages that seemed to come to me straight from the Holy Spirit. I re-read and re-read, I ponder discern and read the above passage on Lenten penitential practices again. Is this what you want me to do this year Lord, will it be a real sacrifice? Will I grow in my faith, grow closer to you, be converted, and grow in love? I seek to do your will, guide me on this Lenten journey. In my soul I hear a still and quiet voice, barely answer yes.
Is it a true yes? I mean de-cluttering and organizing are great ways to bring peace to our home and family but is it a sacrifice? Then I re-read yet again Ann Voskamp’s powerful words from her post yesterday,
“It is an irrefutable law: one needs to be dispossessed of the possessions that possess — before one can be possessed of God.
Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God. God only comes to fill the empty places and kenosis is necessary – to empty the soul to know the filling of God.”
And again I re-read yesterday’s passage in my meditation book Jesus Calling
“Let Me be your positive Focus. When you look to Me, knowing Me as God with you, you experience Joy. This is according to My ancient design, when I first crafted man. Modern man seeks his positive focus elsewhere: In sports, sensations, acquiring possessions (emphasis mine). Advertising capitalizes on the longing of people for a positive focus in their lives. I planted that longing in human souls, knowing that only I could fully satisfy it. Delight yourself in Me; let Me become the Desire of your heart.
I went back to the blogs that got me started on the idea of de-cluttering our home for lent to begin with, I re-read again about St. Therese’ and the Little Way. And the following post from the Clover Lane blog:
“Why Lent? To me, Lent is a time of prayer, renewal, self-reflection, sacrifice, self-control, repentance and almsgiving. It does seem silly to me to somehow try to link a good old home de-cluttering with something as deeply spiritual as the Lenten season, but the first time I did 40 bags/40 days it was much more meaningful to me than just getting rid of junk. I thought long and hard about how much we really needed vs. how much we had, I became more aware of how we spent our time and money, I had the chance to feel the rewards of charity (and so did my children) giving away to those in need some of the things we took for granted. It was a physical cleansing of the space we were all growing together in, as a family, but it also freed up space in my heart and mind for awareness and purpose-I didn't want my house buried under "stuff" and I didn't want my heart and mind buried under "stuff" either-and I learned that often the physical reflects the spiritual and vice versa.
After much time and thought I do believe that I am to de-clutter and organize my house as a Lenten sacrifice this year. It will be a sacrifice as I can always manage to find SOMETHING else better to do than clean, organize and de-clutter. And I do believe that I will grow in love with both God and my family, as I am a mad woman when I feel like I’m drowning. Honestly, I feel like I’m drowning in stuff almost all the time. I cannot think straight, let alone spend quiet time with the Lord in prayer and contemplation. I’m grumpy all the time and I know at my very core that it’s because of the mess and STUFF in my life. I know that forcing myself to actually do the de-cluttering and part with some of my stuff, I will be dying to self. I don’t foresee this as being an easy journey, but I’m posting it here for accountability.
I decided to do a combination of the following de-cluttering posts and Flylady
I plan to break my house into several different parts. From there I plan to do a de-cluttering in the morning and clean in the afternoon for twenty minutes in each session. I hope by the end of lent I will have gotten rid of 40 bags of stuff, organized and spring cleaned so that our house is ready for a glorious Easter! I also hope that as the weeks go on, my mind and heart will be freed, unburied and unburdened by blessing others with the stuff we aren’t using. Through all of it I pray and hope that our family will grow in faith and love and that I will have more peace and a better relationship with God and my family.
Does anyone want to join me?The wonderful picture of the hat comes from the following blog http://themorninglorivine.typepad.com/weblog/2009/02/ooooothis-is-exciting-poor-jemima-was-so-nervous-and-anxious-and-crazy-with-anticipation-last-night-she-didnt-sleep-a-wi.html