Sacred Restraint

by Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

The season of Lent is almost upon us! February 10, 2016 is Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of this intentional journey toward reconciliation and wholeness with ourselves, others, God, and creation.

Often Lent is associated with fasting, giving up something of significance to be more prayerfully attentive to God. While at times this has been interpreted in superficial ways, the roots of this practice are ancient and deep. We are taken back to the 40 day desert fast of Christ, a time of preparation and purgation that ultimately led to an inner freedom to respond to the urgent needs of his context and time.

When I consider the urgent needs of my own context and time, I wonder if I might need more than 40 days in the desert to gather my courage for full response! One of the most present crises in some cultures, including my own, seems to be the too-muchness that claims our lives. We are wearing out our souls and wearing out the souls of those impacted by the cultures and systems that turn us into consumers instead of sisters and brothers in Christ. This includes the wearing out of the planet, which we are humbly remembering is not separate from our own daily survival.

The awful and wonderful message of the Lenten season for our time is a sacred sifting through of what really matters and the willingness to release what does not.

In a time of so many voices, so many opinions, so many options, so many products, so many things to do, what would it mean to say simply that we have and are enough? Perhaps sacred restraint is a spiritual practice we need to be restored to a rhythm of oneness, wholeness, and peace.

This Lent, you are invited to explore this resource (posted below), Sacred Restraint: A Spiritual Companion for the Lenten Desert, which is a reflection through poetry, prayer, and practices on the meaning of Christ’s desert temptation in our lives today. You may choose to do this by taking one day or weekend of spiritual retreat with this resource as a guide. You may bring a few friends along, or your whole congregation! You may choose to take this in pieces throughout the Lenten season, slowly returning to the practices and questions that feel most important for your own journey.

Additionally, you are invited to join us throughout this sacred season as we explore the meaning of Lent and offer spiritual practices on the blog. Many gifted writers have prepared words of wisdom and vulnerability as we explore together how Lent matters for us today.

Blessings as you prepare to enter the desert of Lent. Blessings as you find the courage to move toward wholeness. Blessings as you practice each sacred no to discover God’s sacred yes!

(These resources are offered freely, but you are welcome to make a donation for this Lenten guide and blog to Community of Christ: http://www.cofchrist.org/ways-to-give. Thank you for your continued generosity supporting Spiritual Formation ministries!)

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Additional Lenten Resources can be found here: https://spiritualformationcenter.org/news-and-events/lent-2016/

5 Comments on “Sacred Restraint

  1. “In a time of so many voices, so many opinions, so many options, so many products, so many things to do, what would it mean to say simply that we have and are enough?” This is so good! If I know I have and am enough, then Lent is a time for restraint rather than deprivation. Thanks, Katie.

  2. I wonder if the “overconsumption” can also be applied to our spiritual lives and practices. I’m certainly guilty of having too many spiritual books on my bookcase thinking I need to read more, or even trying to fit another spiritual practice in. I’ve heard it called “spiritual indigestion” as we try to consume too much from the spiritual buffet. I’m grateful for the spiritual practice suggestions for Lent, but I may just follow the simplicity of my breath.

    • Thanks, Vickie! Absolutely! There are many paths through the Lenten wilderness! Our invitation is to discern the simple way we are called to take… knowing it will challenge and confront even as it calms and restores!

  3. “Sacred Restraint” grabbed my attention. After reading your take on it, Katie, I recognize that I need it. I look forward to this Lenten practice. Thank you.

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