A few weeks ago, my spouse and I packed away the Advent wreath and took down the Christmas tree. When the tree comes down, it feels like a friend has left the building. With regards to the Advent wreath, I miss that daily ritual of lighting candles and saying prayers of hope and expectation with my children. It is a time of year when we are a bit more intentional about our family faith life, and I am always a bit sad to see that go.
Of course, there is no reason to stop being intentional during the rest of the year, and not only is Lent just around the corner, it is also the perfect time to make space in our lives to nurture our relationships with God and with our neighbors. Lent is a time for taking a hard look at the patterns of our lives, and for opening ourselves to renewal. For pastors, though, Lent is often the busiest time of the year. Because our schedules are so demanding during Lent, can be difficult to take the time to care for our own spiritual selves, and our family faith life can suffer, too.
I love Traci Smith’s book, Seamless Faith, and the simple, thoughtful suggestions that it offers for integrating spiritual practices into family life. Traci has developed a new Lenten calendar, filled with the same sorts of wonderful ideas for observing Lent. The calendar provides a daily activity or subject for reflection. I appreciate that it takes the busy lives of families into account. If the suggested activity early in the season is to buy food for a local food bank, the activity for a few weeks later is to deliver that food to the food bank. Each activity or prayer prompt sets the stage for reflection and conversation. Traci’s Lenten offering helps individuals and families find meaningful answers to the question, “What should I give up or take on for Lent?” by outlining a season’s worth of ways that children and adults can engage in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and service.
A printable copy of Traci Smith’s Lenten Practices calendar is available here. The calendar is part of the licensed under Creative Commons, so it can be used and distributed but not modified or sold without the author’s permission.
Traci Smith is author of Seamless Faith, one of the books published through Chalice Press’ partnership with The Young Clergy Women Project. To learn more about the book and to sign up for email updates with free resources like this calendar, visit www.traci-smith.com.