A Lent of Love

Like most years, I’ve been pondering what discipline to adopt for my observance of Lent. I’ve never been much for the tradition of giving up chocolate or alcohol (DUH!), and in truth have been more inclined to take things on – like writing, exercise, piano playing, reading a particular book, claiming that quiet time that always seems like a good idea but so rarely works. This year, the calendar has handed me the framework which just happens, by the way, to be the foundation, roof, frame and furnishings of the entire life of the one I seek to follow. Since Lent opens with Valentine’s Day and love is precisely what defined Jesus’ life and landed him on that cross, what better way to accompany him than with a daily expression of love? Yeah, probably a little wine and chocolate along the way, but even more open listening, honest speaking and random acts of kindness thrown in for good measure. I’ve brainstormed some ideas to help me get started, but in the end, love can’t be planned; it bubbles to the surface when the situation calls for it and the moment is at hand.

  • Enjoy a candlelight dinner with my sweetie
  • Call my brother
  • Seek out a life coach to help me add focus to my life
  • Fill the bird feeder as soon as it’s empty, not days later
  • Watch a movie about race, maybe Hidden Figures or I am Not Your Negro or  Dear White People
  • Shorten my showers
  • Send notes to the folks who can’t make it to church but sit on my mind
  • Before I climb in the car, ask if I’m going a distance I could walk, or how two trips might be merged into one
  • Make cherry crisp for the neighbor with cancer and a loaf of bread for her caregiving husband
  • Indulge the cats’ curiosity and leave a closet door open
  • Reach out to the one struggling to stay ahead of drug addiction, seeking to encourage without enabling
  • Practice the art of attentive listening, even when my mind is tugging in a different direction
  • Stop thinking about a progressive dinner for the neighborhood and take some initiative
  • Hold my tongue and let him finish his own sentences
  • Take a hike
  • Open a conversation with a neighbor whose Facebook posts offend
  • Write a letter to the far away friend I’ve been meaning to write for years
  • Speak my truth in the face of differing opinions, not behind their backs
  • Pamper myself with brain candy, maybe Janet Evanovich or Diane Mott Davidson
  • Ask a question I’m nervous about hearing the answer to
  • Park myself in front of a sunset and watch the whole splendid thing
  • Join Ben in a project he could do himself, but that will be easier together
  • Invite a stranger to dinner
  • Break up the iris, spread them out and let them breathe
  • Read Seven Years Behind the Veil, a neighbor’s book about living in Saudi Arabia
  • Invite a story from the one whose words repulse me
  • Write a letter to another far away. long ago friend
  • Park the attitude before the snarl sneaks out
  • Say no to locker room humor and racist rants
  • Call my brother – again!

Not what Hallmark and Hershey’s have in mind, and probably not even St. Valentine. Yet it seems to me that when following one who promotes love of God, self and neighbor, and then defines “neighbor” with a radical inclusivity, these actions might get me pointed in the right direction. And help me grow and learn, laugh and live more fully along the way. And if occasionally I look the fool, I trust it will be only in the eyes of the world. Walking in love in the wake of Jesus, who thumbed his nose at public opinion and empty tradition, planted his feet alongside the outcast and broken, strode through the corridors of power speaking truth and declaring justice, who endured the betrayal of his friends and the worst the state had to offer, if he could do all of that in the name and for the sake of love, who am I to hold back and play it safe? If he can make his way through the dark emptiness of death and rise to embrace new life on April Fool’s Day, the least I can do is practice a little love between here and there.


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    • Anonymous on February 14, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Excited for you and looking forward to hearing about these experiences as you “tic” them off this list.

    • Anonymous on February 14, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Great list of inspiring ideas Alice! I’ll be thinking of your spontaneous acts during the Lenten season.

    • Charlotte on February 15, 2018 at 11:52 am

    What a lovely posting, Alice. You inspired me.

    • Tim Wildman on February 17, 2018 at 5:53 am

    Alice, I’ve just re-read this over my morning coffee – what a treat! I had decided that looking for opportunities to open my own heart would be my spiritual practice for lent, and then I read this!! Thank you – as always, your words are challenging, hospitable, loving, and, of course, beautiful!!

    • Jan Armstrong on April 18, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Would love to be the old friend but hope it is Chuck and Ginny Higgins who have had a really really tough year and a half…..

  1. It’s great to hear from you. Jan! It’s been a long time! I haven’t had any contact with Higgins in years, but will hold them close in prayer.

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