On Monday morning, after the hassle of who wears what and eats what at school, as we were driving to school Emma suddenly with a very concerned voice said “I still don’t know what my Lent is going to be”. At first, I did not even understand what it meant. She explained that she was trying to decide what to give up for Lent and was unable to pick between her favorite mobile game and her playtime on a laptop. I don’t know if it was because of the way the question was presented, me being caught off guard on Monday morning or my inability to leave my own personal views on Lent aside and step into the shoes of a child but I was completely speechless, unable to say anything meaningful for the rest of our ride.
However, the theme of trying to give up things for Lent, the question why do we do it? the amount of emphasis that often giving up things gets and what happens once we do give up things remained with me for the rest of the week.
There are actually projects that track and analyze social media feeds for things people give up for lent. According to one of them, Twitter Lent Tracker, in 2020 number one stop goes to “social media”, followed by “alcohol”, “meat”, “chocolate”, “coffee”, “fast food”. And if we look into the data in categories then we have “food” as number one, followed by “technology” and on the third place come “smoking/drugs/alcohol”.
Giving up things for Lent is a good thing. But isn’t the main reason we do so to open up a space in our busy lives and schedules for something more meaningful and divine? Isn’t that void in our priorities and attachments created as an invitation for our Lord to step into our lives and fill us with His peace, presence and joy? This most crucial emphasis so often is simply missing when it comes to how we see and understand lent and fasting.
What about giving back? Giving back to God and giving back to people around us.
Giving back to God by using this wonderful season of Great Lent as an opportunity to slow down from all the business and hectic lifestyle. Trying and making an effort to notice the many blessings of our lives which abundantly are provided to us daily even though we did not actually ask for a blessing.
Giving praise and thanks to the loving guardian and protector of our lives who watches over us and our families, their safety, health and well-being every minute of every day even though we never actually asked for protection.
What about giving back to those around us by becoming the pure and clean mirror reflecting the divine love, care and compassion of God on their lives.
What about instead of giving up chocolates and social media we try something really hard and God pleasing by forgiving more, loving more, caring more.
What about giving back to people who we don’t own anything? Stepping out of our comfort zones and incorporating divine acts of charity and compassion in our lent by feeding the hungry and helping the poor.
This Lenten season let us see Christ in everyone we will come across, let us make it a season of giving back.