The Lenten season is begin with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time for silence. That does not mean that we give up all activities and stop short of accomplishing all that we have necessarily to do during the day. We do all that we do with an attitude of silence. A silent attitude is to have a good look at our inner conflicts, many of which arise from relationships. Silent contemplation is to give up the compulsive need to always be doing something . Being busy becomes harmful when we do not know when and how to stop.
Talking can be compulsive activity, too. When we are cautious about what we say and its effect on others, we listen before we speak. We talk in constructive ways and not become increasingly critical of others.
With an attitude of silence, contemplation becomes paramount. We keep aside time for regular prayer and look deeply at ourselves and centre ourselves in such a way that communication with God becomes easy and life takes on added meaning.
Lent is a time of praying, fasting and almsgiving. Fasting is not only about abstaining from food but from negative habits that destroy our peace of mind. We allow good thoughts to flow through us. We are moved by compassion so that when we give, we do not take away the dignity of those who receive .That is why the Bible enjoins us that when we give, we should not let our left hand know what the right hand is giving. The Bible says, “God who sees what we do in secret will reward us.”
Centred prayer is a way of soothing our inner conflicts and making sense of them. That give us direction in our lives, to move closer to God. That allows us to ‘piano’ our loud inner voices, to make room and space for the soft, inner voice.
Lent also reminds us that we are all stewards of our time. Time is not to be frittered away in concerns that are petty and of no good consequence to anyone. As good stewards, we move in the direction of calm and equanimity. We will continue to experience the stress and strain of daily living. But, like observers, we will discipline ourselves to focus on what brings us life and sideline what takes us away from living.
With silence, we learn to see our negative behaviors for what they are.We renounce and are sorry for the times when we got bogged down with trifles. True penance is not about using a horsewhip on our selves.
It is instead an exercise that allows grace to flow through us. We gently nudge aside negative behaviors and adopt patterns of living that bring joy to us and others. The flow of grace greens our souls and allows us to transplant spiritual seedlings in our inner selves, very much like the rice that is transplanted in the fields. There are seasons for transplantation. The rain and sunshine are both needed for plants to sprout and grow. Every year we need to transplant the fields of our inner beings with new seedlings of love, hope and joy that the three pillars of Lent recommend-prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These bring us to the end of the season- a preparation for the glorious feast of Easter.