Today is the first day of Lent, an observance by many Christians during the forty days before Easter. It’s generally a time of prayer and fasting, to focus hearts and minds on Easter. And not exactly forty days, because Sundays don’t count—they’re considered a kind of “mini-Easter.” But basically, it starts today and ends on Easter Sunday, which this year is April 16.

You may have heard people talk about “giving up” this or that for Lent. Some don’t eat certain foods or on certain days; that’s the traditional form of fasting. Others “fast” from activities or behaviors. If you’d like to participate, you might look on Lent as an opportunity to:

  • Reconnect with other people, yourself, and/or God, by giving up television or (gasp!) social media for one day a week (or more).
  • Simplify your life by cutting down on commitments to groups or projects. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence. And it’s just for 40 days . . . unless you decide to make it permanent.
  • Use Lent as a time to declutter your home. The Salvation Army invites us to take one item every day that you no longer need or wear and place it in a bag. At the end of the forty days, donate the items so they can be shared with people who can really use them. Think of it as a slow, steady spring cleaning.

On the other hand, you might like to add something for Lent—like a volunteer opportunity, a practice of gratitude, or a new healthy habit.

What do you think? Will you add or subtract something from your life for Lent this year? What will that look like for you?