Last year I stumbled upon this interesting list of ideas of how to keep Lent created by writer and blogger Maggi Dawn. I invite you to prayerfully read over this list and see what sparks an interest in you. Then, pick one, two or three suggestions and practice them throughout this season. See what new things you discover about yourself, your world and God! Make this Lenten journey one of joy, discovery and thanksgiving.
Your fellow traveler on the journey,
The Great Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself, so here are 40 ideas for keeping Lent that appeal to the creative and literary, the development of community and relationships, promoting social action, and encouraging ecological responsibility, as well as individual spiritual concerns.
If you’re very motivated and energetic you could do them all, but probably a better idea is to do one of these:
• choose one and do it every day
• choose one category and repeat it throughout Lent
• choose one from each category to do throughout Lent
• agree with a group of friends on one or more to do together
1. Start or join an online book club and read a Lent book with others
2. Start or join a local book club to read a Lent book with others
3. Watch “40” by Si Smith
4. Choose one great novel you’ve never read, and read it this Lent. Is there a character you closely identify with?
5. Choose a great novel you have read before and re-read it. Take your time. What do you see this time that you didn’t see before?
6. Choose one new musician or artist and listen to their work regularly throughout Lent. Listen to
the words/melody. Why does it move you?
7. Say sorry. Where is there a relationship that is cooled, ruptured, upset?
8. Write a random thank you note (or email). Who do you appreciate?
9. Make a list of your friends. One per day, send a brief email, make a phone call or post a brief note to say hello. Keep it short and do-able: the point is to keep in touch, not write a novel!
10. Keep a journal during Lent
11. Invite friends for a Simple Sunday Soup lunch. The company is the point. Eat together
12. Make a point of smiling and saying thank you to people – in shops, on buses, in pubs, on pavements,
to delivery people, to teachers and road sweepers and vicars, and…
13. Power down. See whether you can agree a no-phones at meals policy in your home, switch off all technology 30-60 minutes before bedtime, and make sure you have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with the person(s) you love the most several times a week
Spirituality and prayer
14. Don’t give up cake, or chocolate. Instead, give up inherited ideas about God that cripple your soul
15. Read all the way through one Gospel. Read about half a chapter a day, or less if you pick Mark
16. Say a prayer of thanksgiving every day. Thank God for the things you usually take for granted: food, clothes, shelter, life itself
17. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, and learn to keep still and silent for five minutes every day. Start with one minute and work your way up gradually. Listen to the inner voice.
18. Take your unwanted clothes and goods to the charity shop
19. Volunteer some time at a local charity
20. Make a donation to a charity
21. Join the dots between prayer and action: choose something to pray for and give time or money to
22. Volunteer to hear children read at one of the local schools
23. Revive a medieval habit: reduce your household bills by eating more simply, and give the money saved to the poor. Combine with no. 11 to make it a community exercise
Ecological/environmental – form a new habit in Lent to care for the earth.
24. Change the light bulbs in your house to eco-bulbs, and turn off lights when you leave the room.
25. Turn the heating down by one or two degrees
26. Hang up your washing instead of using the dryer
27. Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Do the earth a favour, and save around £60 a year as well, which you could give to charity or church
28. Learn how to reduce your energy consumption. Your bills will go down so you can give more away!
29. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Reduce food wastage. Shop with a list; use up leftovers, only buy and cook what you can eat and really need.
30. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. Spend a couple of hours one weekend thinking about your shopping habits. How can you buy less, avoid buying what you don’t really want or need, buy fair-trade?
31. Use your bicycle, the bus, or share car journeys. Less fuel used = happier earth
32. Find a source of locally grown food and support it, or grow something yourself
Joy-inspiring spiritual practices
33. Pause 4 or 5 times today to give thanks for what you usually take for granted.
34. Take a walk, alone or with friends. Stop to look for beauty
35. De-clutter a cupboard or wardrobe. Give away what you don’t use or need
36. Sing! Singing fills your system with oxygen and makes you feel better
37. Look up! What do you miss on your daily commute by looking down at your feet?
38. Clean the windows. Let the sunshine in!
39. Plant some bulbs in the garden or in a pot for the windowsill
40. Say thank you to others, for simple things. Tell people when you appreciate their kindness or value their friendship. Don’t wait to give a eulogy: tell them now!