Sunday, 28 January 2018

Magazine Article for February 2018: Lent

Have you ever stopped to think why you do things the way you do? Why do you shop on that particular day, or set the table in a specific way? Why do you drive that route, when you're going to the shops? Why is your morning or evening routine the way it is?

There will be good and carefully thought-out answers for these questions in some cases, but for most of us, the habits we have fallen into have just happened by accident - or we have inherited them from someone else. Of course, there are times in life when our patterns and habits get challenged - going to college, getting married and so on. But often, we just carry on, because that's what we have always done.

But I have to say that some of the most positive and creative experiences I have had is when people have challenged the norms I lapse into, by asking questions or suggesting alternative ways of doing things. It's not always comfortable, but it can be very life-giving if you're brave enough to listen.

For those of us with faith, we have a whole different set of habits and norms, which can be very deeply embedded in our being. The church we go to, the time of the service we attend, the pew we sit in, as well as the roles we fill or the activities we attend. If those are ever challenged by someone else, it can feel a very personal intrusion and we can find ourselves being very defensive.

However, if Lent means anything, then it is a time to question, to review and probably to change. It might be a simple change - allocating a little more time to prayer, Bible study or serving God in some way. It may raise bigger questions for some of us about our priorities, our values and our commitments. It may even ask us if we are in the right place or job.

But we don't have to do that work alone - I value having someone who is a spiritual director who I meet every few weeks for that sort of review conversation. If that would be helpful for you, have a word with me, Anne Cunliffe, or Sue Kiernan.

That may not be for all of us, but if we're paying attention to Lent, we can't go through it without any questions being raised, or without being prompted to think again about our lives. Just remember: it's not a reason to fear. It might just be the exciting start of something new.

Treasure the questions

Mike Peatman

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