It is a time of re-examination, penitence and sacrifice. Most people are familiar with the sacrifice part and of all the facets of Lent, that is the one I think most people participate in - even people who do not observe much of anything besides the commercial side of Christian holy days. Personally, I try to incorporate all of it and to me, re-examination goes hand in hand with sacrifice and penitence.
I'm having a little problem though. In past years, I have given up coffee (I was drinking far too much) and dairy (which my doctor suspected was causing me problems)... These were obvious items to me as my life was much improved by giving up both of those things. These days, instead of 6 or so cups of strong coffee a day, I drink maybe 2 or 3 cups of coffee a week. And giving up dairy was a way of eliminating a cause of a problem - though it apparently wasn't the actual problem.
But this year, nothing is jumping out at me as a sacrifice. There are a lot of things I need to do to improve myself. But I've already made a start on so many of them that the change would not be radical enough to cause re-examination, which I believe is the natural result of a sacrifice and kind of the whole point of the exercise.
Lent lasts 40 days, which experts say is how long it takes to establish a new habit. I don't think this is a coincidence. What I have given up in the past HAS changed my habits for the better. So with this idea firmly fixed in my head, I'm wondering if adding something to my life rather than taking away would be the way to go.
It seems crazy on the surface - I have no time as it is, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea. What if I chose to do something everyday for just 30 minutes? I could manage 30 minutes, I think. Sacrifice my zone-out time in the morning (that space between getting my first cup of tea and actually doing something), or after work when I sit on the couch and think "thank God that's over for the day) - or maybe lunchtime when I either go out to eat or bring something to eat at my desk while I work or catch up on what happened on TV last night or go on Facebook? All of those time periods are about 30 minutes.
Immediately, something pops into my head. What if I made those thirty minutes a day a time for prayerful exercise? I need the exercise - anyone can tell you that. But exercise with a purpose other than getting in shape or doing it because I'm supposed to do it - that would be different. Using that time while my body moves for doing specific prayer instead of zoning out or listening to music - what a concept!
One of the things I've noted in years past is that making that sacrifice for Lent means that I fully commit to doing whatever it is that I decide to do - and in doing so, form a new habit.
I'll let you know how it goes.