Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Lent: A Personal Post-Season Evaluation

We are called to be Easter people. We live in the light of the Risen Lord. The purple and gray that once draped a Lenten church is no more. Today, it shines brightly in white and gold. Lillies line the altar. Overnight, a transformation has taken place. Eastertide is upon us, a celebration of 50 days and yet, I can't help but look back. Maybe I shouldn't. In the words of Bruce Springsteen, I find myself "caught in a crossfire that I don't understand." —Badlands.

Lent is more than 40 days. To me, it is long. It's hard; it's heavy. With Easter Sunday, I know  we find a new freedom —we have been released from the burden of sin— but to make that switch overnight is tough. Am I the only one who feels this way? I guess I would have walked to the empty tomb. Like Mary, Peter and John, I would go— but I might pace and space myself to get there.

I don't want to stay in Lent any longer than necessary. Truly, I want to live as an Easter person. I just need some help. I decided a Lenten debrief, also known as a post-season evaluation might assist me in my efforts. Time to turn the page!

As a teacher and a coach, as someone who has worked in an athletic department and now works in an office of Adult Spirituality, evaluations are not new to me. In fact, I had a professor who found them to be as essential as the event/experience/course itself. She helped me understand why they are important—even if but a few people complete them. She taught me how to craft effective ones, how to read the information and what to do with all of it. Thank you, Adrian!

The discipline of creating and completing an evaluation allows the organizer to consider their hopes and expectations. They invite personal input and commentary. They help you identify strengths and weaknesses—aka areas of growth. My athletes completed one at the end of every season. I figured with this mentality, Why not create one for Lent? 

Much like an athletic season or team, each Lent is different. Some Lents are harder than others. I participate and commit myself to practices of my faith. Each one is intentional and formative. Some require sacrifice, others mindfulness. Some of Lenten practices have changed me forever. In order for me to be an Easter season, I need to get a sense of what has changed... How has Abba Father shaped me in a new way, Am I more Christ-like—am I move loving? forgiving? How do I resist temptation? 

Let these questions serve as the introduction of your own post-Lenten season evaluation. Consider the others I have listed here.

  • Describe the change you were hoping for this Lent. How has that change transpired? How has it changed course into something new?

  • Did you share your Lenten journey with anyone? Make plans to have a conversation with a good friend to discuss how it went.

  • You may have started Lent with an idea of the path you were hoping to take to Easter. It's likely that path changed. Did it? What were the graces? What were the missed opportunities?

  • What practices during Lent might you like to keep through the Easter season?

  • In what ways did you incorporate mindful silence into your day? 

  • Who did you write to this Lent? Remember these people in your prayers. Who do you want to reach out to?

  • One of the pillars of Lent is giving alms. In what ways do you plan to continue giving to the poor this Easter season?

Like any effective evaluation, complete this personal inventory / reflection guide within a week of Easter Sunday. 

You won't receive a certificate, a block or a trophy for having completed Lent. I do believe however, the growth and gifts emerge quietly, gracefully and joyfully in the Easter season...and beyond. I hope this post-season evaluation offers insight into all of that, plus more.

Happy Easter. Truly, He is Risen. Alleluia!

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