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Spiritual Practices During Lent

by Carol Olson, First Lutheran Member and Spiritual Director

Spirituality is all about connections: with ourselves, with God and with others. Lent is a time to explore these connections more deeply by slowly savoring human life in all its wonder and challenges. Spiritual practices offer options to attend to the inner movement of our hearts, bodies, and minds, to let the dust of Ash Wednesday settle and clear our paths as we walk towards Holy Week and Easter. Benefits of this movement inward include the possibility of a renewed sense of gratitude, a softening of our perceptions of life and a call to greater service to others.

First Lutheran Church has several opportunities to support you in your spiritual practices during Lent:

F.I.R.S.T. Steps to Spiritual Practice 

(I composed this framework below long before I became a member at First Lutheran Church😊)

F – Freedom: You may choose how you want to participate in any spiritual practice at any time. If you feel (or are told) that you ‘should’ do a certain practice (or many practices) but are not sensing a desire to explore that practice, choose a different one. Feeling guilty about not practicing is not a healthy practice! Let Awe, Curiosity and Wonder guide you in selecting a practice. What inspires you? Reading? Creativity? Movement? Listening deeply to others? Observing the natural world? Let your own inner wisdom guide you.

I – Intentional: Bring the practice to the conscious mind. Do any needed preparation for it, such as breathing slowly for a few minutes. Mark it on a calendar, take notes or journal about it. Talking to someone can also help with accountability and to explore how God was present for you during the practice. A special note: occasionally uncomfortable or challenging experiences may arise during spiritual practices. Be gentle with yourself. If you need guidance or support, please reach out to Pastor Erin, Vicar Erick, a Stephen Minister, a counselor or Spiritual Director.

R – Regular: Whatever this means to you, whether it be every day, twice a week or whenever you see a tree or notice your breath. Be gentle with yourself if you are not consistent with a spiritual practice. Habits take practice; promise to keep trying if you get distracted or forget. Many people go through cycles of exploring a practice for a long time finding benefit from it, but are then drawn to a new practice. It’s okay to let go of a long-time practice and explore a new one.

S – Sensory: Attend to all your senses. Experience the Creator within your own body. Remember that each of us share both natures of Christ: Human and Divine! Honor your body’s need for rest, food and movement. Examples may include intentional awareness of how the body feels as you move during the tasks of the day or slowly enjoying a meal, noting the appearance, aroma, texture and taste of food. Notice any thoughts, feelings or emotions that arise. We rediscover how to live fully as humans with all our senses.

T – Time: Set aside time for a practice to be explored and enjoyed in greater depth. Use a timer and limit distractions to be more attentive to the practice. Or, set a timer to limit the time that is spent on other distractions, such as social media or other passive visual entertainment where time is lost.

On Sunday, March 19, at 9:30 am, I will be presenting at the Adult Forum on Spiritual Practices. I will share in more detail various options for all abilities of spiritual practices and we will participate in a few simple group practices. You may be surprised about what counts as a Spiritual Practice!

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