Parenthood and Lent

Sara Anderson is an Assistant to the bishop for the New England Synod of the ELCA.  She is a graduate of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg.  She is also the proud mother of two wonderful children and a great friend from Camp Calumet.
The season of Lent usually calls to mind a time of discipline, of sacrifice, of giving up. I have vivid memories of sitting around the kitchen table as a child with my family during Lent. My mother would insist that each family member determine one thing that they would give up for 40 days. We often choose desserts. I suspect that had more to do with the fact that my mother thought she needed to be on a diet and she provided the desserts than any overt spiritual discipline.

In the years since I’ve grown older, left my parents house, purchased my own, attended seminary, and developed my own Lenten disciplines, my focus has changed. I think less about what I’ll be giving up for 40 days and more about how to use those forty days in a way that I can be more present with God and recognize God’s presence with me.

This still often includes diciplines of fasting or giving up something I feel seperates me from a deeper relationship with God. I’m fortunate this year to share my second Lenten season with my son. Last year, I was simply trying to survive motherhood and full time ministry with a two month old as Lent began.

This year I hope to think about the spiritual discipline of presence. My son has so much to show me, teach me, and share with me. He sees this world and God’s creation with wonder, with joy, with a sense of delighted discovery. I want to delight in and be present with him in such a way that I’m not merely thinking about ensuring that his day to day needs are met and he is shaped in a well behaved young child. I want to give up being distracted by what needs to be done so that in the “doing” I can ENJOY my son.

He has already taught me in so many way, the powerful importance of intentional presence. I’ll be practicing it as a spiritual discipline with him-and I hope with each sacred faithfilled person I encounter. I suspect that in doing so, I’ll discover all new ways to delight in the discovery of God’s creation in and through God’s people.

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