The season of Lent this year begins today, on Ash Wednesday, March 9, when millions of people the world over enter into a period of fasting and self-discipline that is unsurpassed at any other time of the year.
As with many religious observances, there is no real basis for Lent found in the Bible. Lent is a church institution. However, as Georgiana Tree West points out in the foreward to the book Keep a True Lent, by Charles Fillmore, co-founder of the Unity movement, the idea has a sound spiritual basis. Moses, Elijah, and Jesus himself set a precendent for it. Each observed a forty-day period of prayer and fasting as a preparation for spiritual work.
It should be noted that the number forty is frequently used in the Scriptures to indicate a completed preparation for something to follow.
Lent can be a true season of preparation for Easter; traditionally, Lent is a time of fasting, of denial, of giving up something. We can adopt this theme as we relinquish old limiting thoughts about ourselves and others. We can seek to express the indwelling Christ and to recognize such expression by others. We can deny any sense of limitation or lack and affirm wholeness and well-being. Even on a superficial level, Lent can serve a very good purpose. Denying oneself certain foods or other indulgences is helpful to one’s health. No one who disciplines himself unswervingly in some manner during a forty-day period will fail to reap some kind of blessing. But there is so much more involved in this, potentially.
Lent can be an excellent time for self-examination, self-discipline, and self-commitment; a time to work with habit patterns in thought and to create new personal ways of being and expression; a time of preparation for the awakening of the soul, much like nature getting plant life ready to burst forth in the springtime. The very word, “Lent,” is derived from a word meaning “springtime.” So, during Lent we can experience springtime in our soul – the budding of new ideas and the unfolding of new awareness. We can manifest inner growth that comes form using our energy in new, creative ways. We can blossom forth with joy and enthusiasm.
The late Eric Butterworth, a well-known and respected Unity minister, made the comment that though many of us may work very hard toward positive thinking, how many really work on the level of thinking expressed in words. In reference to the idea of fasting during the Lenten season as a spiritual discipline, he presented what can be a workable fast: fasting from negative, fearful, limiting words for the forty days beginning on Ash Wednesday annd ending on Easter Sunday (Note: Omit Sundays in the forty-day count).
Following this discipline, he says, you would experience one of the most interesting and profitable seasons you have ever known, whether or not you are oriented to the Christian philosophy.
Work with this; begin to check your words, spoken and unspoken. Replace those that do not fit into the Divine pattern of harmony with health-building, peace-creating, good, beneficial words of Truth.
Eric Butterworth says to let your theme for Lent be: Let Something Good Be Said! Whether speaking about people or things or ideas, Let Something Good Be Said! This slogan might be place in some spot you see frequently, such as on your desk, or over your mirror. It might be used as the start of a conversation, or when there is a pause and people are wondering what to say next.
I remember that my wife, Kathryn, and I had a little saying we would share with people in counseling or in teaching a class. It was that three questions were to be asked of oneself to determine whether what one wanted to say should be said at all: Is is true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? If it did not pass the test of all three questions, perhaps it should not be said at all. There were some people who didn’t have much to say after that!
Let Something Good Be Said! Refuse to indulge in conversation about things you do not wish to happen: war, old age, recession, depression, unemployment, foreclosure, sickness, shortages, inflation. Magnify the good; emphasize that with has worth; talk only of those things that should live and grow. When you have something good to say, say it!
Wrong thinking makes us tired, irritated and nervous. We can’t improve disagreeable things by making ourselves just as disagreeable. If the day or night has been unpleasant or trying, do not dwell on that fact even for an instant. To talk about it will only produce further unpleasantness in your system.
Change the trend of your thought, and Let Something Good Be Said! In working and living with others, to remind them of their faults, or to keep faults alive in your consciousness by spoken or unspoken criticism, will tend to fasten those things upon the other person and they will continually become more troublesome. When you are conversing with people and the tone drifts down into the negative and destructive, make every effort to change the subject by calling attention to the better side. There is always a better side.
Following this Lenten fast will be interesting; not easy, for sure, but the most productive period of your entire life. In the Bible we are told, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14) and “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3)
So, Let Someting Good Be Said!
During this Lenten season, starting today on Ash Wednesday, March 9, through Easter Sunday, April 24, I will be repeating (from 2009) and sharing a special Lenten Message each day on my blog and, naturally, to all on my mailing list. This series of Lenten messages was first developed by Unity minister Dr. Sue Sikking, founder of Unity-by-the-Sea, Santa Monica, California, author of God Always Says Yes and Seed of the New Age.
I pray that the series will be a real blessing to you during Lent and in the months to come, and that it will help and encourage you in your spiritual discipline as you Let Somethig Good Be Said!
Remember, God is Blessing You, Right Now!
Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham
Rev. Alan A. Rowbotham, a Unity minister for over thirty-nine years, invites you to subscribe to his free inspirational newsletter, Spiritual Solutions, at www.spiritualsolutionsblog.com
To subscribe for free weekday inspirational quotes, Rich Words, go to www.alanrowbotham.com
Feel free to share this article in its entirety with a friend.