Lent: Spiritual Growth is a “We” Thing
It might seem strange to look at the advice of a Buddhist monk, like Thich Nhat Hanh, on how to make the most out of this season of Lent. But that is exactly what I am going to do.
As I have said in previous blogs, the common practice for Lent is to give up things like candy, drinking, meat, fun, etc. But Unity co-founder Charles Fillmore suggests we do something else. In his book, Keep a True Lent, he suggests that we use this time to give up error thoughts (i.e., thoughts that no longer serve us and are holding us back from spiritual growth). These thoughts can be about scarcity, lack, fear, resentment, not being about to do something, etc.
During this season of Lent, I suggested that we all write down three error thoughts that we would like eliminated from our lives. In previous blogs I gave you my three error thoughts for this list. But then I suggested that on the ego level we would probably not be able to remove these error thoughts from our lives. It would take more than our egos, and it would require us to reach out to that beyond that is within us all. As they say in 12-Step fellowships, “God could and would if he (she, or it) were sought.”
We will be amazed by how the grip of an error thought can be reduced when we really “Let go, and Let God.” This way works on many unproductive thought patterns that have held us back from what we can realistically become.
But let me suggest one thing more. The letting go of error thoughts is NOT a “me” project. It is a “we” project. I may take a village to raise a child, but it also often takes a spiritual community to make a major dent in an error thought. This is so, I believe, for two reasons:
- First, we will often need the love and support of a caring spiritual community to keep us on the path. Thich Nhat Hanh showed that this was true during the worst of the Vietnam War. He said it took being in a loving spiritual community to not drown in despair. As the Beatles put it: “We get by with a little help from our friends.”
- Second, we need a way to be of love and service if we are to grow spiritually. We need these opportunities to volunteer and be givers.
We have tried to create such conditions at the Unity Center of Tulsa so that it can be a spiritual community where you can come for that love and support that will help you stay on the path needed to overcome your error thoughts. But UCOT has also tried to be an avenue through which you be of love and service to others by volunteering at UCOT and within the community. Go to the new UCOT website (unitytulsa.org) to see all of the ways that you can be of love and service through our spiritual community.
I hope you will make the most of this season of Lent. It is a fantastic feeling when we realize that an old error thought, that was holding us down for years, no longer has the power to block us. We realize that we have stopped going down that negative road. That “still, small voice” will remind you that you have a choice. It also will remind you in so many ways that Spring is almost here!