Pursuing Less This Lent

Pursuing Less This Lent March 19, 2019


For too many years in a row, I’ve tried to observe Lent my own way.

Giving up chocolate or sugar or my cell phone always seemed so paltry in comparison with a world’s weight of sin and suffering. And so I’ve gone my own way.

One year, instead of giving up something, I added fixed-hour prayer. Instead of reading only the morning prayers in my much-loved copy of The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, I set an alarm on my phone and prayed the noon and evening prayers as well.

That was a good thing to do. But it was very much more.

And every year, without fail, I add some new devotional reading or practice to our family-dinner hour. Also, a good idea (though with predictably varied results). But also, very much more.


This year, I’m finally leaning in to the ancient wisdom of the season.

I’m no longer trying so hard to wrest is into my definition of meaningful. I’m no longer imposing my own pre-conceived ideas about what will or will not be spiritually beneficial.

Lent has traditionally been a season for living with less. And this year, I’m seeing what happens if I simply lean in to that.

Because I know by now that my own response to the ups and downs of life will always be a move toward more.

It’s an understandable response. When I’m hungry, I choose more (food). When I’m hurting, I choose more (comforts). When I’m asking questions I chose more (books / expert opinions). When I’m sad or bored, I choose more (distraction).

Perhaps you do, too?

Lent, then, is an invitation to choose the not-so-natural response. Lent is that rare chance in our prosperous communities to sit with our hunger or our discomfort or our regret.

I won’t share here exactly what it is I’ve given up. Suffice to say, it’s predictable. But I don’t need to name it because it isn’t the thing itself that matters.

It’s the less it leaves behind.


In some seasons, less is a choice we make. In others, less is all that’s offered us. But perhaps we always have the choice to fight the emptiness or to receive it? Perhaps even less has gifts to give?

I’d love to hear: are you adding or subtracting in these weeks before Easter?


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  • Herrnhut

    Lenten season is likened by many what men can do. It is far far better to talk about what Jesus did do.

    When Moses upset the LORD by hitting the high cliff rock with his own rod twice and make the LORD look bad to the children of Israel. The LORD told them Aaron and Moses will die and not go in the promised land. (Numbers 20). He later plead with the LORD to let him in. “I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.” (Deuteronomy 3:25) But the LORD said no. Well, well, when Moses mentioned the goodly mountain in Lebanon it was a mystery.

    1500 years later, when Jesus went up to the goodly mountain in Lebanon with His three disciples, He spent His time with Moses and Elijah and they talked about His ” departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” And then He went on to His glory. It is His lent season, not yours as the high and low church made you believe. Moses already knew his appointment long long time ago because He already told him. Do you know He love you that much to plan all this 3500 years before you were born? In fact He planned all these before the creation.

  • fractal

    Very Buddhist of you.