Lenten Reflections

In the Protestant tradition, today is the last day of Lent. (The precise span is different in other traditions.) Unlike most of the Christian world, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t formally observe Lent. Our awareness of it tends to be shallow and cultural, not deep and devotional.

As in: People give things up for Lent, right? Like chocolate and reality television? Just to prove they can? Things they love and to which they intend to return? — because if they were things they should give up anyway, they wouldn’t wait for Lent, and their abstinence wouldn’t end with Lent, would it?

As in: Lent appears from the outside to be a needed respite after the day- or weeks-long bacchanal of Mardi Gras, an orgy of fleshly pleasures so intense that it takes participants six and a half weeks to detoxify (physically and/or spiritually) sufficiently that they can walk into church on Easter in a straight line and with a straight face.

This is a shallow, ignorant view of Lent. Let’s take it more seriously for a few moments here.

New Perspective

You’ve already guessed that I’ve begun to think more seriously of Lent. A favorite Christian blogger, Kim Hall (at GivenBreath.com) has been helping me, even if she doesn’t know it. In a lesser way, my Mormon bishop (pastor) helped this year, too. So did some people whose names, roles, and troubles I will not mention beyond this sentence, who have turned to me in recent weeks for counsel, comfort, or simply a listening ear.

Thankful Reflections on an Interesting Year

Today is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays – and perhaps you’ll forgive me if I parse that word as holy day. If we raise our aim above the purely horizontal, thanksgiving – or gratitude, if you please – is one of the highest acts of worship.

Usually on this holy day, I think of the big stuff, from infinite grace born of God to the spilled blood of patriots and the wrenching sacrifices of their loved ones. All of that is still there, still here, still the object of daily gratitude. But as this holy day has approached, I have reflected on smaller, more personal things. I hope this doesn’t sound too self-serving. In any case it has been an interesting year – and I know it’s not quite over yet.