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Lenten Post by April

Here we are again. The season of Lent is upon us… again.

In reality, it feels like it never really left us. Lent is seen by many as the season of giving up luxuries, vices and habits that pull us away from a more faith-centered life. It’s seen as a season of self-reflection, wrestling with short-comings, and more intentionally depending on God. In many ways it feels like we have been living in the season of Lent for a full year now. In March of 2020, the pandemic broke into the season of Lent and kind of pushed the “slow-motion” button, interrupting not only the season but life as we knew it.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have been giving up stuff and self-reflecting  long enough. I don’t know that I can give up much more or reflect any longer and not cost myself my mental health (or more of my mental health if I ‘m honest). Yet, we are here in the first week of Lent, 4 days down, 36 (plus Sundays) to go. I desperately want to hit the fast forward button and speed to the end so that I can celebrate Easter, but I can’t really do that. The journey to the cross might feel slow but there is a lot to learn along the way.

This year, I am particularly struck by the idea that Lent begins in the frigid cold of late winter. The days are short, the nights are long, and the sky is often filled with a gloominess about it. Yet, by the time we get to Easter, the days will be longer, the nights will be shorter, the flowers will be blooming, the birds will be singing and the sky will seem brighter. That brings me hope.

It is with this sense of hope and longing for brighter days that I set my intentions for this season called Lent. Instead of giving something up for Lent this year I, along with my colleagues, am taking something on this season. We are each taking on the practice of self-care. It will look different for each of us. We each want to celebrate Easter with full hearts and renewed minds; and to do so, we realize that we need to nurture our own souls. We need to find joy again. We need to sit, walk, or run in spaces that help us feel alive. We need to love the person whom God made us to be and give ourselves the space to fully live into that.

I tend to find all of these things in myself best when I am crafting. Whether I am doodling, painting, stitching, decorating cakes or trying something new, crafting brings me joy and peace. Most often, it is not about the finished product as much as it is the process and journey of creating. So, this Lenten season I have committed myself to spending a few minutes each day crafting in some way.  In addition, my plan is to spend a little longer than that at least one day a week. The part about crafting that I hate is having to gather all of my supplies that I normally keep tucked away so I have set up some designated crafting space in my living room.

I will doodle, color, paint and stitch my way toward the cross and toward a more healthy (mentally, spiritually and physically) self. I am particularly excited to begin hand embroidering some finger labyrinths which I will then use to pray. (The stitched rainbow colored heart labyrinth pictured was my first and I have plans for several more.) I will post some of my creations on my personal facebook page if you want to follow along. If you are a crafter and want to join me as I ‘craft’ my way through Lent, I would love to see your creations too. I am sure that we can all learn from each other as we journey together.