Wisdom in Lent
Published on 20/02/18
As the years pass and our children grow it becomes harder to remember all the small details which seemed so important at the time. Films and photos remind us of the fun and laughter at bath times, of individual birthday celebrations, mealtimes, family holidays and favourite toys and friends, but our memories fade and the present takes over. One part of our children’s early childhood is still particularly vivid to me; walking to and from school together that first year. A small hand placed in mine with complete trust was a timely reminder of the privilege and responsibility of parenting. As we walked together I wanted to keep them safe forever.
Later, as they walked on their own and then travelled and faced untold dangers, I realised that our role is to teach them to live wisely in the world and in their community. Just as children must be taught to tie their laces, read and write, solve equations and understand science and history, so they are guided to develop the qualities of character that are valued by their families and by the communities in which they live.
It is through guidance from good role models and caring adults that children develop to be honest and thoughtful, to stand up for their principles, to care about others, to act with humility and to make wise choices. In this way, children learn to connect with their community and build roots which will last beyond our ability as parents to support them. Simone Weil, the French philosopher and political activist, understood rootedness and thought it was the most important, and least recognised, need of the human soul.
The season of Lent, with its focus on self-denial rather than self-focus, offers a chance to reconnect with these ideas. We are reminded of the forty days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness being tested by Satan. Our small efforts to forgo in Lent the things we enjoy are small fry by comparison and yet our wish to improve our lot is deep-seated. Perhaps, instead of giving up chocolate, we should strive to reflect on an aspect of our behaviour and model an improved version for the next forty days? For most of us, the wise choice is rarely the easy choice but our friends, colleagues and family may thank us for it.
Mrs J Jenkins