Lent: embrace change for the better

By Pat Watson Wednesday March 11 2015 in Opinion
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We are now halfway through this Lenten season. Every religion has a period of reflection and penance. For Christians it is Lent, a period that follows the story of Jesus Christ’s 40-day period of meditation by himself before facing his ultimate task, which was to offer himself as a human sacrifice to redeem the sins of mankind. If there would be one person who would give their life over out of love for all of humanity, then we as humans would be redeemed.


Lent is a time to approximate an imitation of Christ. Those who follow the faith are to reflect on their behaviour toward others, to search their souls over this 40-day period and to ask God to remove from them any harmful habits that stand in the way of them being better members within the family of man. By so doing, we honour that unique gift of redemption.


This period of reflection is at once individual and collective. For those who commune with others who share this faith, their gathering together at places of worship can be a way to strengthen each other as they pinpoint harmful behaviour and thinking and commit to allowing the Spirit to guide them toward an improved way of being.


How do we know what behaviour we need to change? We could ask those we trust and respect what glaring habits they consider as unhelpful. We could also call up the courage to admit to ourselves that there is some personal habit that is harmful to ourselves and to others and then we can commit to doing whatever the opposite of that bad habit is. Envy would become gratitude, judgment would become acceptance, negative thinking would be replaced with realistic thinking, greed with sharing, and so on.


But beyond the aspiration of removing from ourselves, as individuals, a behaviour or practice that would by its removal benefit us personally, it is a time to consider what we as a society would look like if we agree to a mission of Christ-like honouring of all our members.


We as people of African descent may feel at times that we are under siege because of the powerful hold that a terrible narrative has in the public mind about who we are. Our task would seem to be to work to change that impression, and to some extent it may be so. But the extent to which we commit to regarding our own cultural group, our own society, with the respect that we as human beings are entitled to will be the way that we can actualize that new narrative. We do that by searching out examples of genuine respect and taking those examples onto ourselves.


There is more power in attempting to change within, rather than focusing outward looking for others to change how they view us. Actions manifest change so that as we as a social and cultural group take on a new collective convention, there would have to be external confirmation of that new way of being. Remember, “faith without works is dead”.


What is also marvelous is that one does not need to be Christian, nor “believe” in God, to allow such reflection and commitment to changing unhelpful habits to enter into one’s life. Furthermore, given our need for gratification, the good news is that there are rewards that come from pursuing acceptance over judgment, generosity over greed, realistic thinking over negative thinking, and faith over fear. Blessings.


A note on Daylight Saving Time…

The illogical practice of routinely agreeing to wake up one entire hour earlier, while depriving our bodies of the sleep that is essential to our health is once again upon us. Yet, if we must “spring the clock forward” to have more awake time of daylight, wouldn’t it make more sense to do so during the months of the year when we have the least amount of daylight, rather than at the time of year when we have more than 12 hours of light? In a world of competing needs, we humans are challenged to find ways that least antagonize one another. Let us then revisit this Daylight Saving Time observance.


Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through a Coloured Lens. Twitter@patprose.

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