This year I began my Lenten preparation a few days before Ash Wednesday by loading up my car with
things to take to Goodwill and the Baptist Center. Perhaps this sounds like an unusual way to begin the forty days
and forty nights that take us to Easter, but the older I get the more I understand Lent as a time
for paring down. In a culture awash in “stuff,” what better way to begin preparing for this
season than by reducing clutter and sharing useful things with others?
Giving away my excess hardly qualifies as self-denial, a traditional component of the
Lenten observation, but I’ve been thinking this year about how to live more simply and how to
reduce what I purchase and consume. One of my resolves is to invest in “permanent” grocery
bags to use in place of the plastic ones that contribute to fouling the planet. Another resolve is
to install some of the new energy-saving light bulbs.
Not surprisingly, many Christians have begun incorporating environmental goals into
their plans for Lent. Some of you may have read about the two Anglican bishops who have
recommended a “Carbon fast” this year (instead of a chocolate fast!). Their list of useful suggestions can be found
at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/05/tearfund. An especially compelling recommendation from
the list is to observe an “embrace-the-silence” day: “No TV, no radio, no ringtones,” the bishops suggest. In the
words of Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God.”
A few weeks ago I had a note from one of my college roommates, now a minister in North Carolina. “Hope
you and your family have an especially purposeful Lent this year,” she wrote. Amen!
– Ashley Williams

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