Lauren McIntyre shares her reflections on Lent. Lauren is a St. Jamesian, a Canterbury Choir member, and a marathon runner.
Abundant love is not what first comes to my mind during the season of Lent. Growing up as a Catholic, Lent was always a time of restriction, absence, and severity. We were preparing for God to take Jesus away from us by giving up something in our lives, going to confession to purge us of our sinfulness, and my least favorite, fasting.
When I left for college and started examining my own faith, all this "taking away" didn't really seem spiritually productive. I wasn't changing the world, helping my neighbors, or bettering my spiritual practice by depriving myself of gum or chocolate. I began to add something during Lent -- writing weekly letters to my grandparents, going to Stations of the Cross, or giving donations to a food pantry.
The only gift that matters is the one that costs us. Though these Lenten practices were small, they still required my time, energy, effort, and money. They required me to give love to others. Lent has become, for me, a preparation for God's ultimate gift of love -- one that cost Him much more than stamps or an hour on each Friday night.
Lent doesn't end with us focusing on the cost of God's sacrifice though. As Brenda said in the Ash Wednesday sermon, "Death and dust is not where it ends." Yes, Jesus died, but Lent ends with Easter, where Jesus rises from death and reminds us that "God's got us." It ends with the promise of love and life.
This Lenten season, I'm thinking about what it means to be in "solidarity with God's ultimate sacrifice." What are the gifts I have to give? Where can I shift my energy, time, and money for the betterment of the world? How can I love abundantly so I'm ready to celebrate on Easter morning?