Preparing for Lent

So I’ve been working on our Lenten series: The Abundance of Enough. Lent is 12 days away… *breathes into paper bag*). I helped my bestie a few years ago as she was doing a series of the same title. I’m a good “bounce ideas off of” person and I helped with some visuals for the series.

This year our stewardship theme was “More than Enough” and as we thought about bringing stewardship practices into a year round commitment I came back to this theme. In preparation I’ve been reading books like: The Way of Simplicity, Plain Living, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go and An Other Kingdom: Departing the Consumer Culture.

Yesterday, I read and collected scriptures and prayers for the series. As I did this I was interrupted by staff in the office and emails from people because Thursday was the first day our office was open after the snow storm (and my 8 year old who was on her 5th day off of school). I also juggled personal finances, attempting to scrape up enough money to make it to payday. I was not successful.

SO I focused on something where I could be successful… Whenever I prepare for Lent I begin to think about my lenten practices. Several years ago I started taking lenten practices very seriously. This year, I will be asking our church to do the 40 bags in 40 days challenge, and I will be joining in.

I’m all for the practices where I ask, what can I take on spiritual/give up spiritually. These are important, but I have found the more ancient ways of deprivation to be most helpful for me in my practices.  Especially as a middle class American.

As I was reading about the Cistercian spirituality of buildings I couldn’t help but think of the Reformed tradition and our churches, they are purposefully plain. This has been my inspiration for the last few years where I have worn all black, no makeup, no special hair products, and no jewelry (search the blog, I wrote about it extensively).

I thought about what it would mean to remove decoration from my home and my office. It was an interesting thought, but as I looked around my house I kept going back to the word “abundance”.

I live in a suburban home with an abundance of space. Don’t get me wrong it’s not huge, but it is a good size, more than we need. I have a closet full of clothes that I walk into and “search” for something to wear. I have 2 refrigerators, a deep freezer, and a pantry full of food and still “need to run to the store.” I have shelves of movies, netflix, amazon prime, and cable, yet still complain, “there’s nothing on tv.”

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I’m a slave to abundance, a slave to options. Why do I need all this? Will there ever be enough?!? We live in a constant state of the food of Thanksgiving and the gifts of Christmas on a daily basis.

It’s time to simplify. I canot serve 2 masters.

Even though Lent is less than 2 weeks away (where’s that paper bag), I’m going to start today, because eating out should be a special event with my economic state, not a habit. Because I don’t need any more clothes, or whatever crap it is I want to buy. And honestly, I could feed our family on whatever is in our house for more than a month, so I will.

I will not buy groceries until we’ve eaten what we have (exception: fresh produce that I eat and NOT throw away, dairy products, or eggs). I might have to get creative, but I will do it. We will eat leftovers and not throw them out. I will use things until they are gone and not for one meal until I forget about them. Also, the paper plates are going away and the laundry will be put away. It may not seem connected but part of the issue is things are bought (socks) because I haven’t folded laundry and paper plates are used because we haven’t washed the dishes.

Abundance is a luxury I don’t want to afford. I want to do better. We already recycle and compost in our house, we grow our own food in the summer and herbs all year round, now this Lent, I’ll take another step to a more simplistic way of life.

I’m also playing around with fasting and silence one day each week, I’ll keep you posted on that…

 

 

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