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Lent for the past two years has been overshadowed by lockdowns and other restrictions because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This year most of those are gone to the great relief of many.  

   Lent recalls the time Jesus spent in the desert being tempted. Wilderness times are often periods of reflection and development. Though we may not always enjoy them while we are deep in their midst, they help us to recognise what is really important in life and what we need to make time and space for in order to ensure a high level of wellbeing.

   One of the things that faith holds out for us is hope. However much we may feel there isn’t anything left to live for, it can remind us that even in the darkest times we do have a future. Sometimes others have to hold that future for us – I know during my times of deepest depression I was certainly not able to see anything beyond the darkness that enveloped me – but hope is always there even when we can’t find it on our own.

   Fortunately most of us are not at rock bottom most of the time, though I’m sure we all have good days and less good ones: days when we feel on top of the world and that life is going well and others when we’d rather just curl up and stay in bed all day.

   We can help to build our resilience when things are good for those times when we are struggling. Lent is a time when we can make our lives simpler by stripping away some of what is not necessary and paying more attention to what is.

   We can make more time for prayer which will help to root us more deeply in our faith and trust in God. We can practise generosity which provides for those in need and helps us to be more grateful for what we have. We can consciously take time to add in rest and a bit of self-care to our days. We can set time aside each day for those things which are life-giving – even ten minutes a day can make a difference. That might be ten minutes in the garden, conversation with a friend, a brisk walk, a relaxing cup of tea or a bit of crafting.

   Lent might be seen as a depressing time because it has a connection with giving up things we enjoy, but we relinquish them only to allow more space for the restorative gifts that God longs for us to have.

   What will be your Lenten aspirations this year? Whatever you choose, I hope they will bring you closer to God and provide strength for whatever life throws at you in the coming days, months and years.

Best wishes Sarah

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