My husband and I spent the last four days in New York City. The trip was part of Craig's Christmas present and part of my efforts to keep our marriage strong after being away a lot for work recently. I love New York and have decided that I would go once a month if I did not work weekends. We had an amazing weekend! But getting there and back was not exactly smooth. There was traffic in route to Union Station, a bummed knee in route to Penn Station, and some confusion with the map in route to our hotel. Some of the stress was repeated during our route home yesterday - enough that Craig said, "Traveling is really stressful. The destination is great but getting there and back is really hard."
Tomorrow we will start our journey to a new destination. Our journey is one of denial and one of discipleship, one of letting go and one of taking on. Our journey commences with ashes placed on our forehead as we hear the words, "From dust you came and from dust you shall return." We will then be invited to think about what makes a holy Lent - what can we do to become more fully aware of our sin and the meaning of Christ's death and resurrection. And, if we do Lent right, the journey will be anything but easy. It might require a few sacrifices - a few bumps along the way. The journey may challenge us. It might even make us mad. But if we journey with the hopes of our destination being an increased awareness of who Christ is and how Christ longs to work and is working in our lives, then we could be on the trip of a lifetime.
Perhaps you have spent much of your life giving up chocolate or Diet Coke for Lent. Want to try something new to make your journey through these next 40 days more meaningful? Here are ten ideas:
1) Write 40 notes to people - not emails but hand-written notes. Take time to let 40 people know how much your life has been blessed or enriched because of them.
2) Seek reconciliation. Who are you currently separated from as a result of an argument, a disagreement or an action? Who needs to hear the words, "I'm sorry" coming out of your mouth?
3) Embody the joy of generosity. Send a gift to a ministry that matters to you. Increase the amount you currently give to your church. Send a check to the college or seminary that shaped and formed you. What if you were to give away $4 each day or $40 a week or $40 each week of Lent?
4) Give thanks. Don't put a single bite of food into your mouth without first giving thanks to God.
5) Join a small group. Allow yourself to be shaped and formed in community with others.
6) Read scripture daily. Start with the Psalms and read one each day or pick up the Bible and turn to the Gospel of John and read one chapter a day.
7) Journal. Spend 15 minutes a day writing a prayer to God.
8) Treat your body like it is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Exercise twice as much as you currently exercise. Sign up for a new class or even start training for a run. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol.
9) Watch what comes out of your mouth. Promise yourself to not cuss and refrain from talking about other people.
10) Serve others. Call a local ministry and make a commitment to serve once a week for the next six weeks.