The Joy of Less is More
I just returned from my own private Mardi Gras on the coast celebrating twenty-eight years of marriage with my beloved husband. For three days good food and fine wine warmed our spirits and filled our bellies. Fabulous as the short getaway was, our thoughts and hearts turned toward Lent as we headed home.
As Jack told me about the Lenten series he was working on, I pondered my own preparation for the season. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday—a feast day of overindulgence—precedes Ash Wednesday which begins the forty days of Lent. Having duly honored the feasting, I was ready for a little self discipline in the food and wine department.
Everyone usually asks what I’m giving up for Lent. I’d rather focus on what I gain. Lent is a time to draw near to God, to remember that my sojourn here is not forever. Through the discipline of mortal appetites I become more in tune with spiritual realities, and am more available to God.
As I draw near to God, a supernatural peace pervades every area of my life and makes the chaotic journey bearable and more joyful. Where overindulgence deadens my senses and turns me into a couch potato, austerity heightens an awareness of purpose, love for others and a desire to participate more fully in life.
The principle ‘less is more’ is fully realized in Lent. When I choose to spend time reading and writing instead of indulging in my addictions to Downton Abbey, et. al., my life becomes more fruitful and creativity blossoms. When I say no to chocolate, alcohol and caffeine, my body reboots and I get a natural high from exercise. I like the fruit of self-discipline even though the enforcement of it is often unpleasant at the beginning.
Lent is a reminder that my future is not bound to this earth with it’s pleasure and pain—that I have an eternity ahead of me that does not include suffering or evil—and that there is more to life than just pleasing my senses. I am exhorted to persevere and do whatever I can right now to love, serve and encourage others on this journey.
From dust I came, and to dust I will return—what matters now is how I live my life, honor God, and love others. For me the season of Lent is a season of joy—a reminder of the reality of life without distraction—a time to acknowledge the struggle and surrender to God. Lenten disciplines allow me to celebrate life with a clear head, energized body and purified soul. What’s not to like?
Happy Lent everyone.