by Susie Merrihew, MSW, LCSW

As odd as it may sound, Lent is my favorite of the liturgical seasons. Something about Lent speaks directly to my heart. Perhaps it’s because Lent is a season where we become more realistic about who we are. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” During the Lenten journey, we tend to be intentional about deciding whether to give something up or take on something new. The time and space for intentional reflection, increased awareness and discernment can help us draw closer to God.

The practice of reflection is important during Lent and throughout all seasons of life. Taking time to reflect is instrumental to our growth. Reflection helps cultivate self-awareness, helps us identify our core values and beliefs, helps clarify our goals and aspirations and helps us learn from our experiences.

Through reflection we become more resilient, we can increase our empathy and understanding, and may even improve our conflict resolution skills. Reflection is far from a passive activity. It requires dedication, honesty and a willingness to learn and grow.

Some suggested prompts for reflection:

-What does Lent mean to you?

-What areas of my life feel out of balance currently? Physically, emotionally, spiritually?

-Are there any areas of your life you’d like to focus on for growth or change?

-Am I taking time for quiet reflection and introspection?

-What practices could I adopt to draw closer to God or strengthen my spiritual life?

-Where do you see God’s presence in your life?

-How can you practice compassion, forgiveness and acceptance for yourself and others (remembering that God loves you unconditionally)?

-Do you hold unrealistic expectations of yourself or others? How can you let go of perfectionism and embrace vulnerability?

-Reflect on your inner strengths and resilience (Lent isn’t just about acknowledging weaknesses). How can you cultivate more gratitude for these qualities?

-How do I want to emerge from Lent?

-How can I shine my light?

I pray we all try to make the space to reflect, pray, and listen this Lenten season… and beyond. As we let go and shed, may we more fully embrace the person God created us to be.