Lent, the forty days leading toward Easter, is a sacred season of reflection for many Christians as they remember Christ retreating into solitude for forty days and forty nights where he resisted temptation and stood true to his connection to Truth and Light.
What is your truth? What, in your life, is tempting you? What is pulling you away from joy and light in your life?
Christ sacrificed his own popularity and acceptance by continuing to spread his teachings, which eventually ended in the ultimate sacrifice of his own life upon the cross.
“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” ~Mahatma Gandhi on Jesus Christ
Many spiritual leaders walk the path of Salvation through Sacrifice. The Buddha abandoned his family to find his Truth. During the process, he too, avoided temptation of evil but through the demon, Mara. To find spiritual truth, the Buddha detached from all material wealth and attachments including comfort, food, family and most human contact. He fasted and sacrificed these luxuries, not to bring pain upon his earthly body but to move away from the greater pain of attachment to the material world.
“The sacrifice which causes sorrow to the doer of the sacrifice is no sacrifice. Real sacrifice lightens the mind of the doer and gives him a sense of peace and joy. The Buddha gave up the pleasures of life because they had become painful to him.”
In both examples, Jesus and Buddha went off into solitude to find their path to spiritual enlightenment. We are unable to connect to our Source without the silent solitude necessary to feed our souls. We need time alone, time to meditate, time to reflect and time to feel God or our Inner Light.
When do you find quiet time for yourself? Have you made it a priority to give yourself and those you love this sacrificial gift? When we take the time to care for ourselves, we are more able to care for those we love.
Regardless of your own spiritual or religious beliefs, this time leading up to Spring is a good time to consider your relationship to ‘things’ and emotions that are no longer serving you.
What are your attachments in this life? Can you let go?
During Lent, we often hear of individuals ‘giving up’ worldly things such as television watching, chocolate or bad habits. And while these are all good tests of our will and free us to focus on more spiritual work and healthy lifestyle, we should also include a Lenten sacrifice that can be looked upon as more of an act of service, or joyful giving.
This Lent, we can be aware of the hold material things have on us. Many of the comforts in life can consume us and keep us trapped, away from the true beauty of simplicity. These forty days and nights, we can work toward freeing our spirits from attachment and allowing unselfish love to flow into our lives.
“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” ~ Buddha
We can begin simply by giving others more than we give ourselves. This type of a ‘giving sacrifice’ can be in the form of a clothing or food donation, volunteering in our community or just simply turning off the computer or television and being present with our families. It is impossible for us to truly be with our loved ones or even hear the silence and be alone if we are constantly ‘connected’ to some form of technology.
In these modern times, are we ever really alone? Aren’t we constantly connected to something or someone via text, phone, computer, television or radio? Can we sacrifice the noise in our lives to lead us toward greater spiritual truths?
Those of us who yearn to find ourselves more deeply must first allow ourselves to be alone, free from material attachments and constant connections. At first it can be uncomfortable to be alone or sit in silence – but it is essential to our spiritual growth and physical health. Meditation and prayer are wonderful tools and especially fitting during Lent. You may also consider journaling each day of Lent as part of your Lenten ‘sacrifice’.
“The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give. But the less you have the more free you are.
Poverty for us is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance. It is joyful freedom.
There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy.” ~Mother Teresa
While the depth and meaning of this sacred time is not something we bring to the children with our words, the reverence we show in our homes this Lent will absolutely feed their souls. In addition, the sacrifice (or gift) of silent reflection and simplicity frees us to truly ‘be’ with the children each day… loving, eating, playing, learning, warming and sleeping.
What more do any of us truly need?
Eileen is a work-at-home mother to four daughters. She runs Little Acorn Playgarden out of her Brookfield, Connecticut home and writes and publishes monthly seasonal guides for parents and caregivers of children at Little Acorn Learning. She has many ideas and activities for parents on her blog at Eileen’s Place. In addition to her regular lesson plans she is now offering Monthly Afterschool Enrichment guides to add a celebration of the seasons to your afternoon and weekends.