Besides our Lenten giving that we are doing, each day of Lent we also add a candle to our Lenten spiral and move the figure of Christ carrying the Cross. Then, on Sundays, we light all of the candles so far (we don’t light the candles daily, just on Sunday. Sundays are not part of the 40 days of Lent, but I still wanted to mark them somehow, and the hopefulness of a week, then two weeks, then three weeks, and finally four weeks of candles ablaze seemed perfect for the Sundays). I love the figure and its meaning, and we talk about how we are walking towards the Cross (and with the Cross) with Jesus and what that means for us in our faith. (Our gorgeous Lenten spiral and figure were made by Knock on Wood in Maine.)
We have a calendar with windows to open for Ash Wednesday, the Sundays of Lent, and Holy Week (sort of like those sturdy paper Advent calendars). My son also has a book of child friendly readings he reads from each day, and I have my own (Lent with the Saints). After he does his reading, he also has a corresponding sticker he places on his “Route to Easter” Lent 40 Days sheet. We will do various crafts & activities, too, some of which are from the book All Year Round.
At church on Ash Wednesday, we received nails made in the traditional way (hammered and squarish) that we also have as reminders of the struggle of Lent– and the promise of hope and salvation it contains.
I have to admit, I usually get very depressed during Lent and find myself focusing on the sorrow and pain, not the Light that is to come with Easter. Adding in the spiral and other tangible elements has helped me tremendously and I am able to better remember the intrinsic hope and joy that is just behind the sorrow and dark. And… my son’s birthday falls on Palm Sunday this year! More reason to be joyful during Lent.
I’ll end this post with an Anglican prayer we say as we put a candle in the spiral:
God of hope, from you comes every blessing and all peace: Show us that, in the midst of struggles, you are with us. Give us the abundance of your grace that we may do the work you give us to do and that we may be for the world a sign of your presence; through Christ, the Way and the Truth. Amen.