Lent starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. As I’ve discussed on The Christian Pagan Fellowship discussion board, my practice of Lent has changed over the years and much more so since I am walking a Pagan path. When I was younger, I would usually give up something, usually sweets and chocolate. As I grew in my spiritual practice, I decided to make this a time of learning and a time to become a better person. So, now, instead of focusing on deprivation (I still try not to go in excess during this time), I focus on improvement. I try to select a feature that I would like to improve about myself or a skill that I would like to develop. Over the years, I have done many things: taking time to listen to what people are really saying, abstaining from talking about someone when they aren’t there, asking about people to get to know them better, making time for silence, buying less, trying not to control everything… What I have found is that 40 days is just enough time to really integrate a new habit and to make it a part of who you are. It’s really a life-long gift that you give yourself.

The last few months have been hectic and I have just been going through the motions trying to keep up with my own life choices. So I’ve decided that I would take this time to reconnect to my sacred space. I want to get back into the habit of doing my daily devotions, the way I used to. I want to greet the sun every morning and say my prayers every night in thanks to my Lord and Lady. I want to establish sacred space in this new house that we are just getting to know by re-visiting my altar space and playing my drum more often. I want to make space and time for reading and writing again, because this and my family is what connects me to my sacred source.

Another important part of Lent is the giving to others. It is part of our Tradition to consider the needy during this time. I read something in a book on Kabbalah (God is a Verb, Rabbi David Cooper, amazing!) many years ago that always stuck with me. It gave the suggestion to have some money aside or a cheque for a fixed amount (the amount isn’t important) and to give it to the first person who asks. This way, you really let the Divine work through you without you determining what is a worthy cause and what isn’t. About three weeks ago, I was in the subway and I saw a homeless man, passed out, half naked, with a stub instead of an arm. Another man was a little off to the side and was screaming at another passerby: ‘It’s a human being, not an animal. No need to look at him that way!’ I reached into my pocket and handed over what little change I had. The friend took out a large beer bottle from under his coat, gave me a cheers and said thank you. I was taken aback for a split second. Did I just make a mistake by giving these guys money? But I felt deep within that I had done a marvelous thing. First of all, beer has a whole lot of calories, which is what people need if they can’t get enough food. It also helps forget how devastating the situation is. And it probably helps to have company, so why shouldn’t they have their beer? What’s more, what if today this man wakes up and decides he wants to move on and he needs my dollar to do that? Who am I to judge that he doesn’t deserve that chance? So, I walked away with a smile on my face and felt like I had opened up a tiny crack in the universe where something may emerge if it wanted to. So, during Lent, I’ll just keep a whole lot of change in my pockets and give it up to whoever knocks on my door.

I wish you all a blessed Lent. May this time of reflection bring you all joy and peace and a deep sense that God moves through us all.