We are in the midst of the Christian Lenten season. About 20% of Koreans are either Catholic or Protestant, so even in this predominantly Buddhist country, I am seeing signs of the Christian faithful observing the 40 days leading up to Easter.
The observation of Lent was not in my faith tradition growing up, and I do not identify as Christian. That said, I decided this year, for the very first time, to observe Lent in my own way.
I love the idea of setting aside a specific amount of time to step back, take stock, and reflect. As I began my research into the origins and practices of Lent I kept coming across something I’d never known; this idea that Lent is a form of justice to God, self, and others and that it is a time to call things what they are.
Calling things what they are.
That is a short and simple sentence but a long and challenging task. As we move through life, it is so easy to brush things under the carpet or to choose not to deal with unpleasant things or to refuse to see things as they really are because doing so is too difficult or painful or complicated.
My old understanding of Lent (admittedly, completely uninformed) was that it was when Catholics (because I didn’t know other Christians observed Lent) prayed a lot, gave up something they loved, and gave things to charity.
My new understanding of Lent is that in addition to praying, sacrificing, and giving, these folks are also doing an internal audit of their lives. They are asking themselves about the state of their relationships, not only with God, but with their partners and children, their coworkers, their extended families, their friends, and the world at large.
By doing this – taking time to truthfully observe and reflect on how we are behaving in the world with loved ones and strangers alike – we are doing justice to ourselves and others. And by truthfully examining the state of our spiritual life, we are doing justice to whatever is our idea of the Divine.
As a yogi, I am always pleased when I can make connections between faith traditions, and as a mother, I am always excited to be able to share a new philosophy or way of seeing the world with my son. Christian or not, it cannot be denied that the practices of taking stock and doing justice are worthwhile.
Becoming a mother has made me ever more aware of the reality that the purpose of life is to make connections. It is what we crave from the moment we are born to the moment we move on from this life.
Putting in the necessary time and effort to maintain these connections, to stay in relationship to other people and to spirit, is something that I intend to teach my son in word and deed. Using 40 days per year to intensively do this seems worthwhile. Imagine what would happen if we made this a year-long practice?
Are you observing Lent this year? What are your Lenten traditions?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ms. V. of South Korea.