Creating Margins for Lent
In the traditional liturgy of the church, Lent is a 40 day period of fasting leading from Ash Wednesday (tomorrow!) up to Easter Eve, excluding Sundays. No, people don’t abstain from food entirely! Instead, people usually give up something, like chocolate, to signify a break from dependence on things and renew their dedication to God.
This year, instead of giving up something, how about creating something. The thing I would like to challenge us all to create is — margin.
A margin is very simply the space found at the edge. Spiritual margins are intentional periods of time that we redeem from our normal daily routine in order to generate a healthy spiritual rhythm in our lives. They can often be room that we leave intentionally for God at the edges of our day.
I suggest that we begin and end each day of Lent (beginning Wednesday) by reciting the Jesus Creed. In your evening recitation of the Jesus Creed, give some moments of recollection to confess any sins against the Jesus Creed throughout the day. This creed is essentially the ancient Shema of Israel which was quoted by Jesus. If you’ve been memorizing our key verse the last couple of weeks during worship, then you’ll be ready for this exercise!
Here it is:
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than these.
(from Mark 12:29-31)
What we may discover – in tune with the wisdom of ancient Israel’s recitation of Shema and the early church’s recitation of the Jesus Creed and the Lord’s Prayer – is that this sacred rhythm works love of God and love of others into the bones and sinews of each day.
Who will take this challenge?
I’m experiencing a lot of changes at work and my mind is overly-active right now. Thus I am commenting at 3:34 am on this Tuesday morning.
Cindy and I have been talking about boundaries. I lack them. I’ve been getting myself buried in social media/networks again and I am once again feeling over-connected and burnt-out. I justify it because it is work-related, but it has become all-consuming. “I am weak!” *crying pathetically at the ceiling*
I like your spin on abstinence. Creating margins – digg it. I’m in.
I also am feeling like my schedule is jam packed. Not necessarily with “scheduled” things, but with everyday things like packing 2 kids around everywhere I go, and trying to figure out when to get some (paid) work time in, and when I can actually spend time with that guy I married a few years back….what was his name again?
Haha. So anyway, I’m in.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I’m taking Scott’s challenge and mostly failing. Last night, I spent my margin time watching youtube videos – unlike Caleb, I can’t justify it as work-related. Yeah, I recited the prayer but then promptly dropped off to sleep. Despite my shortcomings, though, I’m finding the exercise useful. At least there are now margins on most days, if not all.
I shared the idea of margins with the Facebook group, “Disorganized Religion.” The moderator, Kim Pierrot, really liked this spin on Lent and posted this quote by Henri Nouwen that works nicely with the theme:
“…in the spiritual life, the word discipline means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act.’ Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.”
I just thought I’d share that with everyone.
Margins means making space. For a long time I have tried to fill my days and weeks until there was no room in my margins. Recently I have started to cut back in my commitment with the military and the results have been shocking. I now feel like a civilian again. As I balance being a Husband, a Leader in the Armed Forces, a student, a Student Life Enthusiast at CFN I am learning that Margins is what makes it all purposeful. Without the margins in my life, It would all be meaningless and a royal waste of time. Thank you for letting me be a part of your conversation.