Preparation for fasting and feasting

ash berries - life PJ

I belong to a faith tradition that makes no specific preparation for Lent within its practices.

It’s a relatively new thing for me to take note of Lent and consider how to prepare my heart for the journey.

And I’ve come to realise I cannot fully undertake it without surrender, intention and deliberation.

Life itself invites us into a gentle awareness of days and seasons of the heart, an opening to the sacred within the secular.

As nights draw in and days become dark and cold, we may gather dead, dry and dying plants together to make a bonfire. From the embers grey ash rises, ripe for garden mulch.

Ash is precursor to new life, new growth. A potent symbol of the dying and rising we experience within.

Likewise, Lent provides opportunity to sift out dead wood we’ve unwittingly gathered over time, consign it to death and seek the restoration and renewal God offers us through a transformed mind and heart.

Ash Wednesday

Absent from this temple

is smudge and ash of grey

reminder of and reason

why our Saviour came

But deep within this heart

remains a cloak of black

as sin still crouches there

ready to ensnare, attack

Deeper still within this soul

shines a Light without limit

where God’s Love resides

bringing wholeness to my spirit

And as I journey forth

leaning closer into Lent

my value and my worth

become ever heaven-sent

©JoyLenton2016

You can’t get a better companion to walk you through Lent and into Holy Week than Malcolm Guite as he invites us to become immersed in poetic reflection with ‘Word in the Wilderness’.

I’ve also downloaded a pdf file: ‘Hungering for Life – Creative Exercises for Lent’ compiled by Christine Sine, with Jean Andrianoff. Here, contrary to the usual emphasis on fasting, we are being asked to consider what we are hungering for during Lent.

You can find myriad resources for Lent on the Godspace blog, including prayers, ways of celebrating with children, musical and creative resources. Click here to discover them. Ignatian Spirituality also has 10 great ideas for Lent here.

This preparation will hopefully lead to deeper reflection on new life rising from death rather than focussing most on loss and death itself.

The words below speak into our need to focus on the positive. They came from ‘Morning, Noon and Night – Poems and Prayers’ and can be found in various forms in Lenten reflections. I’d love to hear how you prepare for Lent and make space for Easter.

“Fast from criticism, and feast on praise.

Fast from self-pity, and feast on joy.

Fast from ill-temper, and feast on peace.

Fast from resentment, and feast on contentment.

Fast from jealousy, and feast on love.

Fast from pride, and feast on humility.

Fast from selfishness, and feast on service.

Fast from fear, and feast on faith.” 

ash fast and feast - PJ

Time to be ready

autumnal trees

A new season starts and we wonder if we are ready for all it may entail.

The wind of change blows strong and all that we knew before is carried on its current into the Past.

Like the ever-changing seasons of life,  we too have seasons of the soul.

Maybe you’re in a preparation period, time to till the ground, turn over the soil and ensure it is in a receptive state to welcome and receive.

Maybe you’re readying yourself to sow some faith seeds in anticipation of a harvest to come.

Or could this be the period when God’s promises to you will finally be fulfilled?

Sometimes it feels like we spend forever in a waiting season, getting colder, battening down the hatches and hibernating.

We need reminders that there are cycles of change, life will bloom again and hopes will be met.

Aslan is stirring and Spring is coming to a land long-starved of joy and light.

Faith and hope will be brought to life again, and all that we have hung onto which doesn’t fit who we are in Christ will die a slow death as we co-operate and co-labour with God in the process.

I’m in a new season in many senses of the word and these things hang heavy in my soul.

And as I’ve thought and prayed I sensed God asking us, His church, the Bride of Christ, to make herself ready for His return.

To keep the flame alive, hold on to the hope that is in us.  He is at the door of our hearts.

We are the Light-bearers and Good News sharers to a dark and needy world.

We are the ones who live ever-hopeful of seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

We are destined to be united in heart, mind and purpose  (in all the things that truly matter) as His children and His body on the earth.

Are we ready, friends?

‘Be ready’

Try to remain steady

as I’m making you ready

Preparation is a key part

of a transformed mind, life and heart

My best work cannot be rushed

and your soul must be hushed

to be receptive to My voice

Listen, sow,then you’ll rejoice

All of your life is open, laid bare

I see those things you willingly share

and others you try to hide away

will be brought forth in the light of day

No stone will be left unturned

in a heart that has yearned

to be touched and healed by Me

that longs above all to fly free

Before I can give you wings to fly

you may have unreleased tears to cry

as I seek to uncover and unearth

all that’s tethering you to earth

My will is for you to rise and shine

to reveal grace, to be wholly Mine

Come, My child, take My hand

This is time to be ready, here I stand

©JoyLenton2014

Linking my poem here with  Kate and other bold and brave writers  for #FMF as we go with the flow on the topic of ‘Ready’.

Also  joining with Jennifer as we #tellhisstory , with Mel for #essentialfridays and  with fellow writer friends, grace dwellers and sisters in Christ as we seek to live for Him and make Him known.

Ibis in Flight