This time of year in the Northern Hemisphere can bring to mind eating cleansing greens such as nettles, dandelion, leeks, chevril and fasting. It can also bring to mind spring cleaning. For those observing Lent, which runs from Ash Wednesday through the Thursday before Easter, this season can also make one think of:
I think this can be tricky with children, especially small children as much of the true Lenten work can be a time of true adult inner growth and spiritual work. However, I do think there are ways to observe Lent as adults and to include the entire family.
My church and I think of Lent in three parts, with a few ideas for each area gathered from my spiritual advisor and myself:
- Keeping a daily journal of thoughts and feelings
- Hiking in Nature (yes, this may seem an odd one but what better place to feel connected to the world and to connected to onself for reflection than being out in nature?)
- Schedule a meeting with your spiritual advisor
How to observe with children – setting a Lenten mood can be as easy as watching the sun rise or set every day, or observing the same tree every day at a particular time, or hiking and seeing the wonder in the world, make a Lenten calendar
Reading and Meditating on Spiritual Matters:
- I will be using Saying Yes to Life as a daily meditation
- Read a poem a day, create poems
- Re-read a profound children’s book such as Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, Wrinkle in Time
- Create music and art
How to observe with children: Attend church together, read together, start a gratitude jar for Lent, share music and art creations
Prayer, Fasting, Self-Denial
- Turn your screens off on Sunday
- Get off social media for Lent
- Create a prayer list for those you don’t know and those you do
- Skip a meal a day
How to Observe With Children – sit for one to five minutes in silence, create a ritual of praying for others, do secret acts of kindness, writing a thank you a day or a week to someone special, creating a true day of rest for the family with lots of family games and family time
More ideas from past posts regarding Lent:
2019 Lent: Pilgrimage of the Soul
2018: What I Want My Children to Learn During Lent
2018: The Wonder of A Simple Lent
2014: Celebrating Lent and Holy Week With Children
I would love to hear your amazing ideas for Lent!
Thank you for these thoughtful reflections and ideas. Your post helped me decide on my Lent activity for this year. I’ll be reading the Gospel of John every day, along with an art sketch of the day’s reading.
Thank you for this thoughtful post! Reading it gave me the extra push I needed to choose my Lent activity. This year I’ll be reading the Gospel of John daily, along with quick artistic sketches of the days reading.
I like how you organized your Lenten ideas- very helpful, thank you, Carrie! We have a calendar we have used for years – it is made up up of colored leaves the girls painted when they were 3, each is numbered 1-40. We clip a little “caterpillar” for each day until the end where it turns into a butterfly! When we check in with our calendar we are doing a short prayer and meditation together. The girls are preparing for Confirmation so we will continue our Bible readings at this time, too. 🙂 We went to church this morning for Ash Wednesday (after a FAT Tuesday) and plan to each Tuesday night in addition to Sunday, we will do a daily (or near) daily gratitude reflection with our calendar and prayer time), read a new book aloud together, journal and get out onto our trails more! I think Friday night instead of our family movie, we will walk out with our dog and observe the skies. I chuckled when I read your thought of a sunrise/sunset each day because right now it is so freezing cold and the idea of doing that when it is DARK, seems really unhappy 😦 But, thoughts of North Carolina sunrises and sunsets…ahhhh….!
We have made our lenten goals of self-denial (not quite those terms) but what we are giving up to simplify our desires, needs and attention. My husband and I turning the screens off after 4 (phones, too!) and taking a break from social media. Through all of this I’m excited and GRATEFUL for the opportunity to lighten my load as I enter the wilderness again 🙂
Thanks for all your encouragement and ideas along this journey…
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