The humble Lenten Rose – not a rose at all but a hellebore – among the earliest flowering plants in the northern garden, often bursting through the dirt and unfurling its petals as the season of Lent approaches.  As early as 1400 BCE the non-toxic varieties were used to “cleanse the mind of all perverse habits.”

The season of Lent begins next Wednesday with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. The day before is commonly celebrated as Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, a time of wild excess and celebration before the season of introspection and “giving up”. Originally known as Shrove Tuesday, it was a time to use up the extra fats and sugars in the house before beginning the season of fasting in Lent. It was also a day to make confession for one’s sins before Ash Wednesday.

In the vein of reflection and confession before the beginning of Lent, I invite you to a time of looking more deeply into your life. Instead of listing out your sins, work slowly through the following questions and allow God to reveal the broken areas of your life. These questions are designed to draw out the attitudes and motives that lurk a bit deeper below the surface. Rather than quickly naming off a few obvious sins and moving on, take time to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into a more comprehensive exploration of your life.

Take a moment right now to examine:

  1. What habits might be keeping me from loving God more fully?
  2. What habits might be keeping me from loving my neighbor?
  3. What habits sap time from my life in an unhealthy way?
  4. What healthy habits have I developed and how can I continue to nurture them?

Lent is not so much a season of giving up as it is a season of change. We are transformed, and we are continually being transformed. Lent provides us the opportunity to slow down and take a close look into our hearts and minds:

  1. What do we see?
  2. Where were we last year at this time?
  3. How have we grown?
  4. In what ways have we withdrawn from God and others?

Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply. Listen. Can you hear the Spirit speaking?

Now slowly read this passage aloud. Listen carefully to the words. Read it again. Carry this passage with you today as you continue to reflect on the work of Jesus within you, and give thanks.

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. Jn. 12:24 The Message

This post was originally featured on Godspace, at that time the blog for Mustard Seed Associates where Andy worked for nine years. Be sure to check out Christine Sine's Godspacelight blog featuring more of Andy's writings as well as writers from around the world exploring many aspects of Christian spirituality.

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