It's kind of a relief really. Lent that is... it makes me buckle down and refocus on what my priorities are, what is important in life, and what changes I may need to make to try to be a better person. Ash Wednesday is almost like the first day of school in the fall. You dread it a little bit because all the unscheduled fun of a chaotic summer is now coming to a halt. But secretly inside there is a calming that you are getting back to a routine and getting back on schedule. Lent is the same for me, it's time to get back on track and get my soul ready for a good tune up. Midlife is really a key turning point when it comes to taking a good look at who you are and slowly chipping away at the mystery of yourself. Many spiritual advisors believe that the richest years for spiritual growth are between the ages of 40 and 55. Makes sense I guess. I think it coincides with the time in ones life when you figure out you actually have NOTHING figured out. You reach that stage in life where you realize that it's half way over and you are wondering... is this it? Midlife is also unfortunately the time for many, where a crisis has brought you to your knees. So yes, I would say they are right that's, probably a good age span for spiritual growth.
Which again brings us to why Lent is a good time to get your game face on and grow spiritually. To do this it's like any other fine tuning of the body... self discipline and self denial are key. They make you stronger and take your focus off of SELF DESIRES which can sometimes be crutches. Talk to any athlete, businessman or successful person and the requirements of lent is usually what is required to obtain a major accomplishment or goal. A true mental discipline. Don't fret, there is no need to go at it alone. Athletes have trainers, actors have coaches, business leaders have seminars/conferences. You can do the same with spiritual growth for Lent. I have a wonderful spiritual advisor who is a priest and a monk. Father Gregory helps me take a good hard look at myself. It's a lot of work to grow spiritually and it takes time, but I'm finding it rewarding. I'm a little slow on the learning curve. Making change is hard, but I'm a work in progress. (I'm not as innocent as I may seem HA) If an advisor isn't for you maybe a retreat, or a class? Lent is the time to stretch yourself, find yourself, and change yourself. Start with baby steps. Maybe a book or a book on tape for the 40 days of lent. Here are Ten Ways to Grow in Prayer. If you really aren't sure just go sit and meditate somewhere, or say a prayer, or best of all just STOP and listen for the next 40 days.
Over the years Lenten practices have had many changes and the rules have actually gotten easier. Some say they no longer want to give up anything, so now they are just going to do something for someone. Some say Sundays don't count anymore. Whatever your belief or practice, I say just ask yourself, "Am I doing everything I can to make myself stronger and better?" If the answer is yes then great. If instead you are trying to fit in a few Lenten token disciplines into your busy schedule, to let everyone know you are playing along. Hmmm maybe you need to rethink Lent? If you're curious on the history of Lent CLICK HERE. Even as a child I knew Lent meant that it was a time to make myself a better person in Gods eyes. Now at midlife it's important for me to do it for myself even more. And it's okay if this isn't your year to start making a change. This is more than a New Years resolution that you give up after two weeks. Lent is a true gift of sectioned time, filled with many chances for forgiveness and fresh starts, year after year after year. Your year will come, maybe this year is the year you are to help someone else change for the better. Today a priest said to read Psalm Chapter 51 if you need help and courage to start making changes.
Keep looking forward so you don't miss what God puts in front of ya!
Matuschka's Midlife... Telling it like it is...