The chance to teach and learn - Lent, in my experience, is one of those seasons that can be really difficult, and on some level should be difficult. And although I come from a more liturgical tradition that has observed Lent for many years, I married into a family (and am now serving a church) who haven't put as much emphasis on it in the past, so I'm loving the way this season affords me the chance to both teach about it and learn about it in new and powerful ways from those experiencing and exploring for the first time or in a new way. In a more general sense, I love the opportunities for the studies that so often happen either personally or collectively and whatever role I may be called to fill in them.
Special Services - I am a sucker for "special" worship services outside of the norm. One of my favorite Lenten memories of growing up was in high school when my church had a large easter picnic and egg hunt for the kids out on one member's property, but on that property was also a large lake with a walking trail around it and along the trail we set up the stations of the cross and different people (myself included) were asked to offer various prayers or devotions at each of the stations. This was a new experience for me, but one I absolutely loved. Last year I offered some new and different services for my congregation which were well received and I look forward to repeating this year. I'm also thrilled to have the chance to simply attend a few worship services at another church in town!
Easter Candy - Yes I know this seems silly and superficial, but Lent always marks the beginning of the Easter Candy season for me, which I adore. The irony is that I normally give up chocolate or candy for Lent so it makes it particularly difficult to not indulge, but much of my affection for the pastel-wrapped goodies is tied to childhood memories of making easter baskets to send to my grandparents, not just in the eating. It makes my heart smile every time I see the little coconut nests with jelly beans in them, but you'll never catch me buying one now because I hate coconut!
Slowing Down - I, like many, have a tendency to allow my life to reach a frighteningly frantic pace on far too many occasions, and Lent is always a way of slowing myself down. Whether it's with a new devotional practice, the deliberate preparations for activities and services to come, or simply forcing myself to think more about what I'm eating it is always a helpful time for me.
Music - The music is probably one of my favorite parts of most seasons in the church and most worship experiences. It seems to make things much more powerful and personal to me, and it's usually the part that will stick with me the longest. There is a local church sponsoring a "Sanctuary Arts" series on Sunday evenings, and I am looking forward to being able to attend several of those!
And my bonus, something I could do without.
Preparing my Easter Sermon - Yes I know it is important, but for me it's a lot of pressure. I've heard a lot of really bad Easter sermons. The worst was one I heard while Jeff and I were dating and the entire thing was about Lazarus and death, not Jesus and resurrection. It would have made a great Good Friday sermon, but it wasn't Good Friday! So basically, I don't ever want to be responsible for one of those "really bad" Easter sermons. Last year I was thrilled with my Easter sermon. It was probably my favorite one I've preached to date but since I need something new for this year I'm not looking forward to it.
And to report on my self-care stuff: I'm still doing therapy every week, but I'm also trying to find other ways I can care for myself. I have started a new devotional journal and part of CPE this unit is focused on self-care. We are doing journaling around the book "A Roomful of Questions" (which I highly recommend if you need some food for thought) and will also be engaging in spiritual direction as a group. I have done a self-care assessment to identify some growing edges in the ways I care for myself, and I am working on setting some concrete goals that can be accomplished between now and the end of May.