Most Unitarian Universalists do not observe Lent.  I started observing Lent in 2012 and have found it to be a powerful practice to connect me to the Holy, immerse myself the teachings of Jesus, and dive deeply into recognizing the God within as I peel back the layers that work as barriers to the Holy.

This year I am offering a weekly email ministry to share in observing Lent as Unitarian Universalists.  If you are interested you can sign up here.  To view the email sent out earlier today which contains the following blog post along with other information, click here.

Under Construction: Preparation for Lent

Living a life of faith is a never ending, always evolving cycle.  In some ways, we are always under construction.  I have considered that this may even be true in death, that we godjust keep developing as more is revealed.  Of course, there’s no way to know that for certain.  Though, it’s pretty observably true for life.

As we prepare to enter the season of Lent (Ash Wednesday is next week) I am considering how I want to observe this holy period and what I want to give up.  Sacrifice is a major theme of Lent, it reminds us of the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth as he went to the cross and met his death.  Whether you believe he was crucified as some pre-destined decree by God to grant us salvation or you believe he was a wise teacher and radical for social and political reform, his death holds meaning worth exploring.

Fasting as part of Lent reminds us of our commitment to our Faith, connects us in an embodied manner to the story of Jesus, and makes room for the Holy in our lives.

In years past in lieu of fasting I have embraced practices with writing or photography in an attempt to savor the sweetness of life and be grateful. This year feels like a sacrifice year.  I know I have to give something up, something that blocks the Holy from entering my life.  There are a myriad of ways we numb ourselves to the Holy in an attempt to shut out discomfort and painful emotions.  The problem is we shut out everything. We use television, alcohol, drugs, and sugar to shut down, numb out, escape.

Lent is about more than giving up chocolate.  What is taking up space in your life that prevents you from experiencing the Holy? What behavior has become routine that doesn’t elevate you to your best self?  What do you know, deep in your gut, you need to step away from because it is owning you?

Fasting is one aspect of Lent, but an important one.  Join me in creating change in your life for 40 days.  While Matthew 16-18 encourages us to fast in silence,  I encourage finding a friend or small group of friends to share your experiences throughout Lent.  We know we are stronger in community.  For a more interactive experience, you can leave a comment here. I’d love to hear how your journey goes.


4 thoughts on “

  1. Hi, Starr! I am a member of the Lifespan Faith Development Committee at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie. I just stumbled across your blog, and love what you have to say about Lent, and your ideas for observing it. Just wanted to find out if it was okay with you if I put a link to it on our website and facebook page? Thanks!

  2. In the vein of “to know, to dare, to will, to keep silent,” I recently enjoyed a fast without discussing it outside of my home until I was finished. It was for 7 days, and by day two, once the fasting chemistry set in, I really wanted to proclaim from the mountaintop (you know, on Facebook, ha!) about what a great experience it was in terms of strengthening my Will and commitment to health and well-being, my willingness to sacrifice petty indulgences, instant gratification, and to instead more healthfully confront and deal with stressors that often provoke poor food choices as coping mechanism. I felt pretty great in body and spirit and wanted to share. I began several posts…

    But my heart kept saying, “pause.” Hold this closer to your own chest as you work through it, and wait to share once the Working is done. I didn’t think much about it – I just went with that inner guidance and now, post-fact, I think that choice actually was part of my own current process with strengthening will, discipline, and openness to hearing Beloved Within – to be more “alone in the desert” with it, if you will. Many spiritual journeys in which we drop off everyday trappings (in whole or part) involve an element of silence and solitude to deepen the Work and clear the way to divine receptivity – yet I don’t often enough avail myself of that – writer wordnerd, represent! 😉

    This time, silence really did seem like part of the medicine and I could feel/see why sacred silence has often been part of the age-old prescription. When I chose to share after I’d completed the fast, it felt extra potent and affirming, like coming up fresh out of baptismal water. I felt I had the best of both worlds – the benefits of sacred silence during a Working and, after, the benefits of community encouragement. This was as *I* needed this time, but mileage on how to go about a fast working (or other form of sacrifice – making sacred) varies – person to person or even for one person, working to working pending their intention and needs at the time.

    Sometimes, visible, verbal/voicing community support (and other practices) in-the-moment or throughout the working may be part of the medicine needed – a mutually supportive band of Travelers for a Journey. 🙂 Sometimes, “to keep silent” is part of the medicine needed – The Hermit needing to go “away” to polish and relight hir lantern in seclusion before bringing renewed light back to the community. 🙂 A sacred story exists or can be created for every purpose.

    Many paths up the varying mountains, eh? Here’s validating and encouraging them all with prayers for each person’s growing ability to sense what forms and means are needed for hir at any given moment, and prayers s/he will find the resources and support, both inner and outer, to see hir Work through.

    Love and gratitude to you for offering a community engagement resource and encouragement for those in need of such good medicine!

    • Thank you for weaving more imagery from other traditions into our shared considerations of Lent this season! I appreciate the added layers and find them really nutritious for my own journey.

      For me this year, I am sharing more about what it is I’m doing for my practice. It can be difficult to balance that with wanting to hold it closer during the Sacred time of engagement.

      I will be abstaining from met on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays.
      I will be giving away 400 items during Lent to charity.
      I will be praying twice a day. The morning will be a purification ritual from my esoteric tradition. The evening will be more traditional prayer.
      And, of course, I will be maintaining my weekly email ministry and these blog posts.

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