Now that the seasons of Advent and Christmas are over, we are back in “Ordinary” time. For me this is a kind of breathing space before being launched into the tough season of Lent.
I love the four weeks of Advent, full of words like hope, peace, joy and love, but I dread the six weeks of Lent, full of words like fasting, discipline, penance and sacrifice.
So, at this time of the year, I try to distract myself. After a long, cold, isolated winter, I need to have images of Spring flowers in my mind. I need to have the distraction of Valentine’s Day when I can enjoy guilt free chocolate treats because, hovering in the background is the dark shadow of Lent. It’s like a visit to the dentist marked in my calendar. It is still five weeks away, but I am already bracing myself for the inevitable.
Preparing for Lent is like preparing to run a marathon. Runners don’t just suddenly show up at the start of a marathon without months of training and preparation. So it is for me and Lent: I should not wait for Ash Wednesday and suddenly attempt to jump into the Lenten marathon without being prepared.
This year I have decided to make more of an effort. I am going to try something different. In addition to my regular prayer time, I am adding some pre Lenten fitness training, easing in slowly, so that I will be ready when Ash Wednesday arrives.
We have available to us, courtesy of our Parish, an excellent program, Formed, which provides all parishioners with a wide variety of activities. I am using Formed as the source of my pre Lenten fitness training, beginning by using the daily readings and reflections available. This is working well so far. I plan on gradually increasing the intensity of my pre Lenten fitness program by adding more activities from Formed, including a bible study and meditation as Lent draws closer.
Here’s hoping that when Ash Wednesday arrives, this year, I will be better prepared for the marathon that is Lent.
How about you? Are you ready? Do you need to prepare yourself for Lent?