I wrote here about how our family is fasting from computer-ish stuff for Lent. (Obviously, blogging is not part of that fast, mostly because I find the outlet a good one for my soul, unlike Facebook!) That fast is going pretty well, and the boys are getting the idea of it. But I also wanted to do some more tangible things to help them focus on the story of Jesus and the spirit of Lent. Unfortunately, since there was a little thing called a newborn around January and February, I didn't have time to prepare much in advance. I am pulling out some ideas from last year and adding some things in as we go along. Here's what we are doing.
Learning the Story
I am once again using this booklet with the boys. Each week has part of the Passion story along with a symbol. I am doing a simple craft to go with each symbol. Last week was a lantern, and we made paper lanterns. This week is the rope that bound Jesus. We are making a paper chain for the remaining days of Advent, and I will use this to explain that, just as Jesus was bound with rope, we are bound by sin. As we approach Easter, we remember how Jesus death and resurrection free us from that sin, symbolized by breaking the last link of the chain on Easter. I'm not sure what I will do for the remaining weeks. Like I said, I am doing this as we go along.
Learning to Pray
In addition to the booklet, I am using this book to help the boys learn the story of the Passion. I haven't pulled it out yet, but I plan to start using it at lunchtime to guide prayer. Each page has a prayer to go with that station of the cross.
We are also reading through Psalm 51 each night at prayer time and using that time as confession as well as thanksgiving and prayer for our sleep.
Learning to Give
Again, this is an area where I have not planned anything specific for this season. But there is still time. I did take the boys with me to donate some maternity and baby clothes to a local crisis pregnancy center, explaining what we were doing and why. I hope to involve them in more service over the next couple of weeks, though I realize my chance are limited with a new baby around!
Learning from example
One thing I am realizing this year is that, more than any activity or story I can do with them, I need to live Lent before my boys. I can ask them to fast from things and read them the story of Jesus all I want, but if I am not modeling self-denial, prayer, and acts of service before them, they won't see a need to do those things. The acts of Lent will just become laws to follow and not a way of living.
So even though I have very little time or energy to add new traditions and meaningful moments to our Lenten observance, I can focus on living out my faith in a way that the boys can see and emulate. The internet fast has been good for all of us, since it forces me to be more present to my children. I am also finding more time to manage my life so that I don't lose patience with them or ignore their need for attention. In addition to trying to manage my time better, I am also trying to find the sacred in the everyday, realizing that washing dishes and folding tiny clothes and washing dirty little faces are the things God has called me to for this season. If this is my reality, then God must want to meet me here. So I am trying to learn to meditate on His presence throughout the day. This book offers great food for thought on that subject, and the process has made me consider praying the Anglican rosary on a regular basis throughout my day.
Check out Jessica's Lenten Blog Carnival for more ideas!