As many of you probably know, this year’s Lent season begins on February 22, 2012. Traditionally, many of us honor Lent by making a sacrifice of some sort, abstaining from something, fasting, or removing something that we will miss during the 46 days leading up to Easter. Ideally, the commitments that we make as we honor Lent are made with self-improvement in mind, as we look within ourselves and discover what we may do to better ourselves and our lives as a whole.
As I was doing some reading regarding spiritually and Lent, I came across a very interesting article that suggested an alternative approach to this time of year. The article, written by a certain Reverend James Martin, suggested that those who acknowledge the Lenten season should abstain from fasting this year and instead do something, which he refers to as celebrating a positive Lent.
Specifically, followers are encouraged to practice a “positive” Lent rather than a “negative” one that emphasizes sacrifice and abstinence, by taking the time to do something good, or as he writes, to “bother to love”. Instead of giving up behaviors or habits that you are trying to kick anyway, why not focus on doing something positive for yourself, or more importantly, for others? Call a friend in need. Visit someone who you know is lonely. Donate your time to something you feel passionate about. Engage in a random act of kindness. Just do something that is good. Bother to show your love.
Reverend James quotes Jesus in the Gospel, saying “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” So whether you are Christian or not, why not take the words of Jesus literally? Bother to share the love that has filled your heart. Show compassion and mercy to those you encounter. Pay attention to your loved ones, and bestow the gifts of lovingkindness upon them. Be good to yourself, embrace your own goodness, and allow others to do the same for you.
Perhaps celebrating a positive Lent is something that you are not quite ready for. Perhaps you prefer a more traditional approach to the season, and you look forward to honoring the holiday in a way that is more familiar to you. Perhaps, you do not celebrate the season at all. And if that is the case, that is okay. As for me, though, I feel that a positive Lent is well worth my consideration, because, just as Buddha said, "Kindness is my religion".
So, if you feel moved to do so, take the opportunity that is this Lenten season, and invest your energies in doing something positive. Be kind. Do good. Bother to show your love.