March 10, 2011

Lenten Mindfulness

With Ash Wednesday yesterday and the beginning of Lent, it seemed to me I should write about mindfulness.  Mindfulness has been on my mind lately, and the topic has found its way into this week's church newsletter article as well as next Sunday's sermon.  Before writing, however, I looked back to see when I had last written about mindfulness on this blog, and it turns out that it was during Advent.

Advent and Lent: the two seasons of the church calendar that focus on preparing/waiting/(re)turning.  The two "purple" seasons.  Clearly this is no coincidence.

As my parishioners will hear me say on Sunday, I think that the reason Jesus went out into the wilderness for 40 days is that he needed to practice mindfulness, and what better place to do that than in the wilderness, alone? 

A lot of people give something up for Lent.  Here in Long Beach, one resident is recruiting others in the city to join him in giving up different types of food and to engage in healthier practices.  It's kind of like New Year's Resolutions, but in March.

Making resolutions, engaging in practices of self-improvement, are good.  However, I don't think that's the point of Jesus' time in the wilderness, and I don't think it's the point of why people have traditionally fasted during Lent. 

Some people believe they should fast (give something up) during Lent as a reminder of what Jesus gave up; namely, his life.  Our "suffering" by abstaining from certain foods or practices is to remind us of the suffering of Jesus.

Again, I commend such practices.  However, I also don't think that is the primary reason we fast during Lent.

The primary reason to fast during Lent, I think, is to allow us to be mindful.  I discovered, back when I was a vegetarian, how much more mindful I was of what I was eating as a result.  Being a vegetarian made me think about what I was eating, and made me more thankful for the food I had.  This is in contrast to shoveling down food without even thinking about it, without even tasting it, as is common in this busy world.

Jesus went into the wilderness.  He got away from the distractions of the world, even the distraction of food.  This, I'm sure, made him very mindful.

Have you decided to give something up for Lent?  I pray that it may make you more mindful, more aware, of your place in the world and of your connection to God.

If you want to hear more, come to worship this Sunday, or read my sermon online - it will be posted Sunday afternoon.  You can find it by following the link at the top of the right-hand column.

1 comment:

O said...

A lovely post. My kids have just moved out to new jobs ,as we just have, and at first they were lonely and without friends and not yet having internet and phone services set up. Now they both have come to kind of like it. Even before mindfulness, it is hard to get space sometimes to just be alone...unconnected? Of course then the Other connections start to become apparent. Sorry I can't get across to church this Sunday! Maybe one day.