Easter has arrived and the long journey of Lent is over. At church on Sunday, Pastor Dave proclaimed, "Christ has Risen." The congregations responded in unison: "he has risen indeed." Now it's time to celebrate.
Or is it?
The prevailing assumption is that Lent is the time when we give things up or change ourselves in some way to make us better. Well, mission accomplished. I lost fifteen pounds, three inches off my waist, and my blood pressure went down thirty points.
Lent has to be more than just a diet or a "get healthy" kick, but I put so much effort into getting healthy that I wonder if I missed the point (it wouldn't be the first time). In my haste to do something for Lent, I have gotten confused (it's easy to do when you're so hungry). I have misunderstood Easter as the finish line rather than the starting line. I feel like I have gained strength, perspective, energy, optimism and joy. But now what do I do?
This past week I've given a lot of thought to what happens now that Lent has ended and we move into what the church calendar calls the "Easter Season." I'm ready to be of service (I'm healthier, leaner, happier), but it's not clear what, exactly, I'm supposed to do.
Making a list of what not to do for lent worked pretty well (I gave up red meat, sugar, salt, processed food, alcohol, coffee). So in this Easter season, I've decided to make a list of things I want to do, who I want to be, and how I will engage in the world.
Monday: Contact a person with whom I've lost touch
Tuesday: Do something that I have resisted
Wednesday: Reach out to someone I have avoided
Thursday: Engage by attending a community event that I normally skip
Friday: Do something I have been dreaming about doing
Saturday: Create something new
Sunday: Indulge myself by doing something that I wouldn't normally do
I'll repeat these actions each week for the next seven weeks, until Pentecost (May 15). I encourage you to do the same.
And those things I gave up for Lent? I guess if I thought they were worth giving up for Lent, I can try living without them for the season that is upon us. After all, I want to stay in good shape - not just physically this time, but spiritually - so that I might be the best expression of myself. I hope my new list might focus me, both to challenge myself and to hold myself accountable so that I might be more
• present with my family and friends
• creative and productive at work
• consistent in contributing to my community
• faithful in my spiritual exploration
• gentle with myself
Then, we finally arrive at Pentecost, and walk forward with healthy habits, consistent patterns, creative engagement and a joyful heart. Or so I hope.