40 Days!

by elizabethbrantley

I love 40 day programs. They seem perfect to me, in a lot of ways. They give you enough time to establish a habit (apparently that takes 21 days) and then the “cementing” time, to let and allow that habit to really stick.

Today, after hopefully very indulgent days yesterday, Christians are embarking on their own type of fast for the forty days leading up to Easter. Having grown up Christian, I have always loved Lent. It comes at a time just when you start to doubt that spring will ever come. It comes with the memories of old Easters where you got a new dress and always a wonderful meal with family and friends. It also comes with a cultural acceptance of commitment to something new. Just when our New Year’s resolutions have started to wane from our thoughts, here comes this suggestion to recommit!

While many people abstain from things during Lent, I always loved adding something. Could I journal for forty days? Could I add more vegetables? Could I go out of my way to be kind to people for over a month? Could I commit to a chocolate and meditative break at 3 o’clock every day?

While traditionally Lenten commitments have been harsh, fasting type things, I find for me that this stringent nature is not necessary (or that fun). This is a spring cleaning, but also a commitment to Life. Can we commit to something that is Life-giving?  It is the hour of darkness before the dawn, so why not commit to something that keeps your spirits high and hopes warm?

The symbolism of Easter is that there is no death. Winter is this season of dying, decay and cold. But this day reminds us of the coming Life. Of the fact that no matter how dark, gloomy, or wintry we might get, the seasons always change. This is the brilliance of this season that Christianity has taken hold of. This is the time to band together to look to Life despite external appearances and celebrate It for all it is.

For me, committing to something, a healthy something that I choose, is a way to engage with Life. It is a way to help me remember the presence of Life and Its promises. It’s a way I can give back, since Life has given me so much already. Also, it’s a way to plant a seed of something good, something a bit challenging that makes me turn to Life for help and encouragement (if only to remember to do it). Its a way to start a project together and the  rewards of such teamwork have never disappointed.