As a pretty confirmed non-religionist from an early age, I have had a particularly difficult time dealing with Lent, a concept which was barely beginning to change in spite of my many years being a “Unitic.” Something about having to give up something, or “sacrifice” to prepare for the glory that is the Easter season just rubbed me the wrong way. Number one: I didn't WANT to give up anything that brings me pleasure, especially chocolate! Number two: The idea that this would somehow bring me into favor with God seemed preposterous (especially when I was pretty convinced that was impossible). And, number three: what did Easter mean anyway, other than an excuse to color hard boiled eggs and eat a lot of candy. I mean, if God, who I thought might not even exist, really cared about my giving up something, wouldn’t He/She have made it easy to do? After all, what was the point of giving up candy for 40 days and then pigging out on it at the end?
As you can tell, I was suffering from a lot of misconceptions and judgments. However, little by little, I have been able to move into a more open mind-set. It began years ago, when I first became a Unity Licensed Teacher, and decided to teach a Lenten class based on the book by Charles Fillmore, Keep a True Lent. Unfortunately, that book proved to be extremely difficult to understand, let alone teach from. You may have noticed we haven’t looked at that book since. Smile.
Every year I have faithfully ordered Unity’s Lenten booklets in February, for everyone in our congregation to use if they want. Every year I have looked at them, said to myself, “Isn’t that nice,” and set them aside. But last year was a sea change. Last year the booklet was based on a poem called “Fasting and Feasting,” by William Arthur Ward, with the idea of “abstaining from what does not serve us in order to nourish ourselves with something more positive.” I found myself eagerly looking forward to reading each day’s lesson in the morning, all through the Lenten season. It was a true delight to discover that this year’s booklet continues with the same idea, suggesting a quality to be released then one to be developed, written by Unity ministers and teachers. Each day we either “fast from what does not serve us, or feast on the greater good.” At last I am beginning to appreciate Charles Fillmore’s admonition to “Keep a TRUE Lent!”
I hope you were able to pick up and appreciate one of the Lenten booklets this season. (They have actually all disappeared at this point!) I also hope you don’t let past misunderstandings and misconceptions limit you as they did me, in not realizing a new idea with this Lenten journey. I encourage you to have an open mind, participate in our Easter rituals and traditions that help put a new spin on the trappings of the season. Please come for Palm Sunday, (yes, we will have palms) and for Easter itself, beginning with our Easter potluck brunch before the service, joyful choral music, lesson and flowers at the service itself. We may even be visited by the Easter bunny with treats for the kids. I invite all of my Unity friends and family to join the celebration as we move deeper into the light and love that is the truth about us!
With love and blessings,
Linda Andrus, YOUR Licensed Unity Teacher