Today is Ash Wednesday, and millions of people around the world will be attending services to remember that they are dust and to dust they will return. Today marks the beginning of Lent, and for most of us, the giving up of something which we consider a vice in our lives. Most of us will give up Cokes, chocolate, dessert, or some other item which we know is bad for us. One year I gave up Farmtown on Facebook; it was a great decision! But what if this season of Lent, instead of temporarily giving up some particular food or habit, you instead use this season of fasting and prayer to create new habits. So, for Ash Wednesday, I would like to offer an alternative.
- Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than normal and read something spiritual each morning before you get up from bed.
- Take your lunch to work three days a week and donate the money you save to a local food pantry.
- Agree with your family that two nights a week no TV or internet is allowed and play games or just sit and talk together instead.
- Ask your local animal shelter what they need most and then organize a drive to collect those items.
- Volunteer at your local animal shelter one day a week to read to the animals there. It is very soothing to them when they are afraid.
- Create a playlist of spiritual and inspiring music and listen to it on the way to work.
- Subscribe to an online devotional and have an inspirational message delivered to your email each day.
- Start a journal, and write 5 things you are grateful for each night before you go to bed.
- Vow to spend at least 30 minutes outside each day appreciating nature.
- Get a rosary, crucifix, or whatever spiritual symbol is important to you and carry it in your pocket. Pause each time you feel it there during the day to be grateful for or say a prayer for something or someone.
Lent should be a time to clear out what is keeping you from being your fully spiritual self. Maybe the best way to do that is by adding something in rather than taking something out. May this Lenten season help you to find peace and spiritual health, and may you learn to share that grace with others.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”