Lent is a time when I reflect upon my strict Catholic upbringing, having transcended it into a spiritual discipline and practice.
For Christians, Orthodox or Anglican traditions, it’s a period of contemplation in preparation for Easter. For the non-religious, it can be a time of mindful meditation. Training the mind to be present and conscious in the moment without judgment or distraction need not be denominational. Both approaches involve discipline and practice resulting in reflection and providing opportunities for personal growth while cultivating inner peace and deepening one’s connection to something greater than themselves.
In my 20s, Lent was about giving up bad habits. In my 30s, it shifted to taking better care of myself. In my 40s, releasing any heavy energies with a focus on forgiveness. In my 50s, it was cultivating inner peace, taking things at my own pace and learning to have self-compassion and love for oneself. My 60s is about rediscovering the inner child’s whimsy, embracing spontaneity while appreciating every moment and seeing the beauty in all that life offers.
I’ve come to understand that the things to surrender are anything that blocks us from our truth and dims our light. A light worth discovering as it can burn bright and shift our lives to a place of joy. Rachel Turow, a psychologist, speaks about behavioural activation by providing a ‘wild amount of encouragement to accomplish tasks she otherwise despises.” This an excellent time to instill that practice in one’s life, regardless of faith, as you shed what weighs you down, anchored in resistance and open yourself up to taking on new and lighter energies.
Our minds are dangerous because our ego drives them. Our hearts, on the other hand, will happily listen to our inner voice favouring us. But our soul will only respond to truth. There’s no faking the journey to accessing our authentic voice of guidance. You need only surrender. The key is persistence and willingness in the process to create lasting change. Suffering comes from all the blocks we have set up for ourselves. The road to self-awareness is littered with ridiculous beliefs, resistance and righteous rhetoric that we have made to believe has value when it does not. This is where agreement becomes the puppet master.
You can’t fathom what exists beyond limited beliefs and resistance will allow. Both act as filters through which we interpret the world and limit our ability to see beyond. Forces exist outside our current understanding or awareness, and it’s essential to remain open to their possibility. Because you can’t see it or you don’t believe it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It means it’s outside your scope of vision but not your range of reach. You can’t see gravity or electricity, but there’s no denying its existence. You can’t see what you can’t see. I liken it to telling someone the mustard is on the second shelf of the fridge, and despite staring right at it, they can’t see it.
Lent is a time to let go of the spider webs of envy, the fog of distrust, the mud of anger, the slime of shame, and any regrets. There are none. We make the best decisions we can with what we know. Hindsight isn’t 20/20. We can’t make decisions moving forward from the insights we have yet to gain, so release that illusion and be in the freedom knowing you’re doing your best. These emotions cloud our judgement and prevent us from fully experiencing joy and happiness in the present moment as we busy ourselves, dredging in thoughts of ‘if only.’ Expanding our awareness and opening ourselves up to the infinite possibilities of the universe will remedy that as we begin to glimpse the underlying unity that binds all things.
Understanding our divinity or spirituality from our human perspective is restrictive and shaped by cultural, historical and personal factors and can vary from person to person. It isn’t an intellectual or rational comprehension. Our beliefs can transcend both and be felt or experienced in ways beyond words, or concepts could ever capture.
When we cannot imagine or see the magnificence of love and all its aspects, we swim in the shallow end of the universe and resort to humanity’s limited interpretation of what life is—confining it to the shadow of society’s metrics, peddling illusions of consumption to feed a bottomless pit with tangibles while robbing the soul of its light.
Negativity is something a lot of people I know want to give up this season as they observe how caught up they are in its grasp. It’s readily available, surrounds us, and often we don’t even know we’re engaging in it. Seeing the world in a negative light can be a challenging habit to break. It’s comforting to expect the worst after much disappointment than to hope for the best and be let down. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness can turn that tide around.
Operating from the darkness and shadows, believing they are powerful, is an illusion. Light a match in a 100,000-square-foot pitch-dark space, and you won’t be able to hide it. You can’t do the reverse with darkness. As humanity, we have been able to cover ourselves in so much darkness and distance ourselves from our truth, creating a perverse existence—time to shed the blanket.
As a generation of superwomen who can fix anything, we’re not scared of the shadow side, but what if we didn’t take action and were in trust instead? Letting the pieces fall where they may at the moment, no matter how messed up, and instead of sorting it out, showing up with compassion to the situation. Terrifying, yes, but that is the closest thing from a spiritual perspective illustrating what faith is built on, an unwavering conviction in trust in the Universe.
Comfort and expansion are incongruent ideals. Add energy to expansion, and you begin to thread together words like infinity and in perpetuity because energy doesn’t die. It transforms, and we’re all energy. A little trippy, and yes, I’m not on any gummies as I write this. The ego is fighting for its existence, and complacency satisfies it, while unity consciousness wants to envelop the whole planet. Shit is happening, and it’s ugly. Still, before you arrive at a gorgeous cake, messes are made, eggs are broken, ingredients are whipped, things are separated, then finally thrown together.
The idea of drilling deep into meditation, prayer, or simply being present and mindful during this time helps us cultivate a deeper connection with the universe tapping into a sense of purpose and meaning that goes beyond our desire and concerns. While Jesus may be seen as a religious figure, his message of love, compassion, and selflessness can also be viewed as a universal and timeless message that surpasses any particular religion or belief system.
For me, Lent is a time of continuing the spiritual culling, letting go of old beliefs and patterns that never did serve but came with the hard drive of programming through family, culture and beliefs, and embracing a more authentic and aligned way of being. This can be challenging yet transformative, leading to greater life clarity, purpose and fulfillment. Accessing our spiritual superpowers raises our integrity and is reflected in how we deal with each other and how we can heal the planet.
The matriarchs in my life held strong opinions about the counterculture in the early sixties that looked not dissimilar to Jesus and his crew and were known back then as hippies or beatniks. While these same matriarchs pledged unflagging allegiance to Jesus, they sternly judged those with guitars and good intentions. Some of those sandal-wearing, bell-bottom individuals with long hair hung out at our local inner-city library, helping kids who didn’t have an easy upbringing make puppets on Saturday afternoons and filled their lives not only with creativity but, more importantly, with an indomitable spirit of possibility and joy, leaving an indelible mark. They were generous, kind and loving. A mind fuck for the little Catholic kids at the time, unable to discern the aesthetic difference between the two crews reacting only to kindness.
The sixties was a time of cultural change and upheaval marked by the civil rights movement, anti-war protests and an emphasis on individual freedom and expression. Both the counterculture and those from religious teachings preached peace and love. Despite the two groups’ notable differences, they did share in witnessing a more peaceful and harmonious world. Both groups recognized the importance of compassion, empathy and the idea that we should love and care for one another.
Beliefs shape our experiences, and it’s natural to have doubts about things outside of our current knowledge. But it’s crucial to remain open and curious, especially as we age. It keeps us young and in a constant state of discovery.
Whatever dims your light give up for Lent. If you wish, do nothing, only smile. That simple act will transcend other people’s lives and, consequently, your own placing another nail in the coffin of negativity.