Have you ever wondered how Lenten sacrifices “feel” to your soul? What might feel like a privation to us is actually a VIP (Very Important Pampering) Treatment for our souls. Think of it like this.
On Ash Wednesday we allow Jesus to welcome our soul to the forty day spa experience with some natural palm ash exfoliation in the shape of a little cross on our forehead. He invites us to relax in prayer. Helping us to recline, He sits alongside and gives our soul a gentle massage. His quiet healing touch is a great source of rejuvenation. In the spiritual spa experience with Jesus, our core virtues rooted in what we believe, virtues like humility, God-reliance and hope, can be released of the tension that otherwise often constricts them. Our soul inhales the aromatherapy of grace and exhales self-centeredness and indifference.
Jesus guides us down a hallway where his holy Mother awaits to give us her unique hot stone hand massage. She guides the tiny warm beads over our fingers. She teaches us to repeat the “ave” mantra while using guided meditation to imagine the life and love of God. The meditative prayers of Lent enliven our interior virtues of perception. We are enabled to receive our experiences now through the lens of virtues like adaptability, vision, and simplicity. Rigidity, blindness, and contention begin to disappear. The blessed Mother holds our hands in hers. Our souls sigh with peace.
Dining is an especially delightful part of the soul’s Lenten spa. Our fasting is feasting from a soul’s point of view. As we say no to a sweet treat, our soul tastes delectable bits of self-denial. Forgoing a favorite latte is an interior feast of delicious sacrifice. As our thoughts linger over a food we desire and then offer instead to God, our soul rubs a well satisfied belly full of virtues like faith, steadfastness and charity. The detox-diet offered at our spiritual spa both calms and energizes our emotions with virtue nutrient smoothies. Joy, trust, empathy and gratitude circulate in our soul and flush out blame, reactivity and faultfinding.
Lastly, our soul spa experience includes exercise. We enter the open space where our ability to choose what is holy and good is stretched. Our decision muscles begin to feel the burn of chaos, impulsivity and self-indulgence giving way to newly toned harmony, patience and self-discipline. Our interior fitness and refreshment feels amazing. We wish everyone could have this experience.
We discover that this particular spa is completely run by volunteers. Others who have known the re-creation of Jesus’ Holy Spirit come together and work to offer this experience to others. The interior virtues strengthened during our 40 days become actions that live far beyond. Kindness, inspiration and perseverance are the take home gifts we are able to share with everyone. We commit to a deeper involvement through almsgiving. The virtues of generosity and mercy give our souls tremendous freedom knowing that all we have is ours to give away. That is the ultimate elegance. The virtues we bring away from our Lenten spa make our soul feel like a king. Jesus always calls us to act with Mercy and humbly wash someone else’s feet. Perhaps this Lent He’d like us to give them a pedicure.
This post first appeared on the Catholic Writer’s Guild blog on 2/16/2016. Catholic Writer’s Guild member, author, speaker and catechist, Cathy Gilmore, cultivates spiritual imagination through her books and blogging.
Co- authored with her sister Carol, the adorable storybook: Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day is a story in which a tiny bunny shows us that we can all trust in the loving kindness of Jesus. It might be the perfect touch of inspiration for the little bunnies in your life this Easter.