Lent is a 40-day season of preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent in the spring-time is the life-giving season. As trees shed their old leaves, so too this season invites us to shed the old to live a full life of newness.
Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks (with ashes upon our foreheads) the beginning of Lent. While searching for something worthwhile to give up for Lent I was introduced to a new idea. Rather than giving up something such as chocolate, coffee or another indulgence this challenge has us consider giving up the clutter in our homes and blessing others with it. For the next 40 days I am committing to de-clutter my home and bless others with the things I no longer want or need. When getting rid of gently used items please consider donations to your local Goodwill or other organization who helps those in need. Please post comments to let me know if you will be participating in the challenge during lent, I would love to hear from you!
40 Trash Bag Challenge
Everyday during Lent this year, empty one bag of "stuff" that is no longer needed from your house, totaling a loss of forty bags of stuff!
1. Take a look at the size of your family and household, with an acknowledge of how much "stuff" is present, make a prudential choice on the size of bag to be employed during this challenge. Bag size should be small enough that the goal of 40 bags during the season of Lent is able to be accomplished, while not being too big that you are left with nothing. We must still live in the world after all!
2. If smaller children are a part of your family a 'gauge' may be helpful to keep them engaged and help them keep track of progress. As part of preparations, make a 'paper chain' of forty numbered links. As each new bag is started place a new link in the bottom of the bag. As the chain gets smaller their is a greater sense of accomplishment.
3. This challenge necessarily involves sacrifice. Each member of the family should be encouraged to give something to each bag, or there could be designated bags for each member of the family.
4. Instead of just trowing things away, recycling is a great way to encourage good stewardship of the gifts we have been given, as it symbolizes that we are passing along our gifts to others. Families with children are encouraged to pass along clothes that no longer fit or toys that sit dormant in a closet to families in need instead of just throwing them away.
5. Units of count need not necessarily be trash bags either, however they should be equivalent. For example, a box of gently used toys or clothes could equate one bag off the chain. A stack of books donated to the parish library is another easy equivalent.
As the family accepts this challenge together, bonds will be created that will last a lifetime. Lessons are also learned not just by saying but by putting in to practice. Here the simple lesson will last throughout life that having fewer things can lead to a greater contentment in life.
Credit due to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for this handout on vocations and family faith formation