Throughout March, Christians are celebrating Lent, a season that most UU’s are not very clued in to. We struggle enough with how to celebrate Easter, with its incredible central story of resurrection. What are we to do with Lent, a time of preparation for Easter that features self-denial, repentance and introspection?
Facebook reports to me that I have UU friends who are giving something up for Lent. Some of the sacrifices are unsurprising, like soda, sugar, or meat. Others caught my imagination: phone notifications, Facebook, plastic, mom guilt, and meanness and snarkiness. You see, UU’s can be creative when they adopt a spiritual practice. What might it mean to let go of mom guilt, that awful feeling of never being able to do enough for your kids? What difference would there be in your life if you tried to shift from plastics to natural materials? What experiments might be worth undertaking?
Too often we see spiritual practices as something imposed and rote rather than opening to the possibilities of what could be. Spiritual practice can be any activity we engage in to open ourselves to deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Often, such practice takes routine and turns it on its head so that we have new insights. If I have to think, for example, about what I’m eating and why, it changes my experience from a routine practice to something more mindful. If phone notifications are keeping me from fully living in the present moment, or if meanness is clouding my relationships, then maybe it’s time to experiment for a while with a different approach. That’s what some of my UU friends are using Lent to do. There’s even a Facebook page (if you haven’t sworn off Facebook!) devoted to a UU interpretation of Lent (UULent), that features a daily photo practice, and the invitation “to spend the Season of Lent engaged in a spiritual discipline of deep intention and appreciation of our world, our place in it, and an openness to Grace in our daily lives.”
What’s exciting about being Unitarian Universalist is that we have no bounds placed on our freedom. No one requires you to observe Lent, or anything else. We do not have to accept a particular definition of Lent, or any other spiritual practice. Everything is your own choice.
That’s what can be hard about UUism, too. How do you choose? How do you find a path that’s meaningful for you?
Choosing to engage with something to bring more meaning and mindfulness in your life might make sense. I’m always happy to talk with you about those choices
In faith and freedom, Jonalu