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Lent reflections

Updated: Mar 28

A reflection on what Lent means to us personally from Meryl, one of our volunteer befrienders.

When I was asked to do a short reflection on what Lent means to me, I initially asked a few people for their thoughts. Some spoke of denial of self and others spoke of a time of seeking and reflection. Whatever the answer, it seemed they all agreed that Lent gives the opportunity to have a special time of focus.

So I decided to write down my own thoughts. What is Lent? What does it mean for me? I started making some notes and realised that for me, there was a common theme. I see Lent as a time to set apart, a time of waiting on God. It's a journey from lament to joy. A time when I take stock. A time to focus on what Jesus did for me and what I am actually doing for Him. It's a time for reflection and spiritual growth. A time for new beginnings and heightened awareness. I see it as a time to focus on my spiritual life - of re-commitment, really drawing near to the Lord and acknowledging my need for direction and forgiveness. I feel it is a time to really make space for prayer and reading the Word. A time of self-examination and laying down things that separate me from God. A time of turmoil, refreshment and renewal.

When I read the points I had written, I thought it sounded like my expectation of going away on a Christian retreat, and I guess this is what Lent can be for all of us. Christ retreated to the desert for 40 days. It was a place where he fasted, where he prayed, where he relied on the Holy Spirit and it was a place where he was ministered to.

I've come up with an awful lot of thoughts on what Lent means to me - but I know that when I focus on what Christ gave up for me, I continually fall short when I look at my aspirations of what I would like to focus on during Lent. Christ never gave in, yet during this time of Lent I find that I can lose focus and struggle. So I question myself am I using the time of Lent as an opportunity to really take time out to really wait on God, take stock and hear his voice? If I'm honest, I try, but as teachers used to say, I could certainly do better. Am I taking extra time out for prayer and reading the word? Am I hearing and responding when God is asking more of me in the areas of denial self examination and commitment? We read in the Bible of a passionate Jesus. I ask myself, do I have that same passion about the period of Lent and how I believe it could be useful as a means of transformation of my mind and heart?

I realised that Jesus has set the bar so so high in the areas of listening, obedience, surrender and giving, that putting my trust in God, particularly during Lent is not easy. It is a journey where I know I need to make more space for self examination and reflection so that I can stand before God, ask for forgiveness, reflect and wait for direction accepting this does not come without temptation or pain; and recognising that it is a journey of grace that leads to the joy of Easter.

So to sum up I see Lent as a great opportunity to spend time with the Lord, reflect and take direction. I realised to some that this season may seem an easy journey to walk, however this is often not so for me. A few years ago I came across this poem by Kate MacIlhagga which speaks of her perception of the Lent journey. It's called Lent is not for the faint hearted:

Lent is not for the faint-hearted.

It demands that we, like Thomas,

Put our hand into the side of the crucified Christ.


Lent is a journey towards the cross,

A journey of enlightenment:

From wilderness to feast,

From desert to oasis.

It’s an attempt to identify with the powerless

And the suffering in the world.


Lent is not tidy.

The days grow longer,

The ground thaws, there’s mud and dirt everywhere

And the windows need cleaning.


Lent is a journey.

So at the end of Lent

We should expect to find ourselves

Somewhere different from where we started.


Lent can be an opportunity

To explore what is the nature

Of the promised Kingdom of God on earth

That we long for;

A time to discern

How we are called to work for it.


No, Lent is not for the faint-hearted!

So yes! I guess that the Lent season can be a challenging time. But I pray for all of us that however we focus in this time, it brings us closer to God, his plans and direction for us, and that we never forget the sacrifice that was made for each of us.

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