Lent with Children

On this rainy Wednesday morning, I am staring down the 40 days of Lent ahead with a mixture of wonder and worry. I am grateful for the rhythm that observing Lent brings to the year. But as someone who would prefer to skip the sad parts and celebrate on Resurrection Sunday, I have some anxiety about settling into the long season of pressing in, looking inward, acknowledging my frailty as a human person.

Lent is the observance of 40 days of preparation for Eastertide. Those 40 days don’t include Sundays, which should always be celebrated as mini-resurrection Sundays. Sometimes, it’s the thought of those Sundays that gives me the strength to try a Lenten fast! This period of time is to get ready, to remember and to come close to our own humanity and “the one who is Easter”, Jesus. It’s easier to focus and pay attention if distractions are stripped away and that’s where taking on Lenten disciplines of fasting, scripture study, increased prayer and contemplation can help with the intention of the time.

For children, fasting or taking on new habits can be part of a family experience during lent. For example, eating vegetarian meals is a common Lenten observance. You can work together as a family to cook vegetarian meals, remembering the added cost of eating meat both in terms of life and money.

Similarly, if you usually have a weekly burrito out, you could make simple food at home instead and donate the money saved by eating in to the Berkeley Food Pantry.

Sometimes, it’s those visual cues or some daily ritual that help shape the season, even if there is no fasting or disciplines. Bringing out a purple cloth for the dining table and lighting a candle with a Lenten prayer at meal time can help signify to the whole family what the focus is now.

For a prayer you could try a traditional one like this:

“In a world where so many are hungry,

May we eat this food with humble hearts;

In a world where so many are lonely,

May we share this friendship with joyful hearts.

Amen.”

For me, I put out the purple cloth today and read Ash Wednesday by TS Eliot, like I do every year. I’m looking forward to following along this year with this Lenten Study series by Christena Cleveland, Christ Our Black Mother. Whether you are meeting this season in your family with open arms, ready to try something new like reading the bible together, or fasting, or whether you are weary and wish to skip the whole thing, I pray for all the families of Haven Faith Community that Jesus in all his most humble kindness meets you during Lent.