If you are Christian, you are about to start the long 40 days of Lent on Wednesday. After the excitement of Christmas, I find Lent can feel stale and unfortunately I personally feel that the institutions seem to focus on the death rather than the rebirth of Christ. So they make this special season really sombre.
In the past 8 years I did several things in Lent, that first brought a better understanding to what we are celebrating (putting the focus on the rebirth and not death!) and in later years, emphasised also on the parenting aspect of it by doing things that again fostered what I long for my family: belonging, kindness, compassion, love, joy…..
I thought of sharing some of these things with you in the trust that it will fire your imagination and enthusiasm to try something new this season.
- Have a Lenten Calendar – similar to Advent. There are various ways…. when the kiddos were very young I printed an outline of a lamb, did 40 boxes in it and everyday they stick a piece of cotton wool on a box till on Easter all boxes are filled. For the past few years I used this resource and before that, for a while I did a Jesus Tree. This year I am using the same props found in the Jesus tree but changing it into a path to the open tomb like the image above.
- I find the Crown of Thorns a lovely decoration to have in the home. Every time a good deed is done we take off a ‘thorn’ and on Easter Eve after all have gone to bed, I cover it with blooming flowers- a reminder that when we do good deeds, more good deeds follow us.
- Since Lent is the season of giving up things, I ask the children to do so. I try to avoid the traditional giving up sweets because I find it shallow and artificial. Instead we focus on something we need to find better self control in or add in our lives…e.g. having a screen free day, working on patience, helping more at home. I sit with each child individually and help them find something that they think it is not too difficult for them to achieve. That helps with confidence, strength of character and pride in your own work.
- Lent is also the season of giving alms. So we try find different things to do apart for the traditional giving money to the poor. Things which usually put me out of my comfort zone as well, but, it is good to remember that that is the only way to grow right? Like giving flowers to strangers to make them smile, seeing an older person shopping and helping with the bags, send cards/cookies to the police station as thank you, phone some one you haven’t spoken to in a while. These little things help foster compassion, kindness and joy.
- Lent is also the season of prayer. I think praying just for the sake of it does not cut it. so we get intentional. Sometimes we do a prayer chain and the children think and write to whom we will pray daily. Other times we have had fixed ‘people’ to whom we prayed e.g Monday for our family, Tuesday for the Pope and priests, Wednesday for the poor etc. This year I would like to step it up and thinking of having more prayer time by reading the Bible together as well. Praying together helps with belonging and joy.
There are various other things that I did throughout the years. I am here putting up a resource which I used back in 2015. What have you done or are doing? What would you like to try?