“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
-Thomas Jefferson

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Staceyann Chin, National Equality March 10/10/09 photo: Ed Needham

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's the deal with Lent? (Clarity of purpose, anyone?)

Theologian, author and activist, Jim Wallis explains why he observes Lent and why now is a perfect time to do so.

As with most traditions and rituals, the practice of observing Lent has evolved over the years.  But sometimes evolution brings us further from original purpose. Fasting was always the traditional method of observance (and by fasting, I do not mean refraining from chocolate). As Wallis puts it "Fasting is intended to cleanse the body, clear the mind, create some time and space, nourish the spirit, and focus the heart."

There must be something to fasting or it wouldn't be found in all the major religions. "Cleanse, ...clear, ...create time and space, ...nourish, ...focus," sound good? Sign me up, right?  Wallis plops Lent and fasting right down in middle of now, amidst all the confusion, noise, need, struggle and cynicism today holds for each of us. He does what he does best. He makes god relevant. Not by explaining what god is and interpreting a dogma to adhere to as so many are want to do. But by bringing us back to original purpose and connecting our post-modern souls to that which might provide a sense of the holiness amidst the dissonance of our daily lives.  In his case, the context is Christianity. Yet, as the case of traditional Christianity (but not the modern Christianist interpretation), the practice is not exclusive to other religions or belief systems.

Wallis observes, "Sometimes things get so bad that you really don't know what to say or do. When that happens, it's a good time to fast and pray. Now, it's always a good time for fasting and praying -- especially during Lent, which begins this week." Good point. In my own experience, I do not always pray from a place of routine or belief it will improve my situation. Frequently, and especially of late, it is because I do not know what else to do. And, as many far wiser men, like Wallis, have observed, the power of desperation may move mountains. Lord knows, there are many mountains to be moved today. So many mountains, it may be overwhelming to determine where we might begin. Wallis suggests we might stop and observe the overly obvious. We might do well to begin with ourselves.

Find his article here on The Huffington Post.

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