20 Alternative, Life-Affirming Activities to Do During Lent, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

20 Alternative, Life-Affirming Activities to Do During Lent


Jennifer Angelina Petro



There is debate in both pagan and Christian circles as to the origins of Lent, and, as usual, both sides think they’re right.  We know Norse people put ashes on their forehead to protect them from Odin’s more violent moods.  And it’s hard not to notice that Yggdrasil, the World Tree, in Norse mythology, is an ash tree.  We do know Jesus never mentioned Ash Wednesday, nor anything even close.  It was a ritual adopted many centuries later.  We also know that, in most Christian denominations—both Protestant and Catholic, that it’s traditional to “give something up” for forty days. Some people fast from meat.  Other’s treat it sort of like a New Year’s Resolution and deny themselves chocolate, TV, fried foods, and the like.

I propose that Lent be a time of welcoming new things into our lives, of affirming people and things we love and new people and things we want to cultivate love for. The word, “Lent,” simply means springtime.  Why, during such a lavishly abundant time of growth should we refuse ourselves even the simplest of pleasures?  I truly believe that is not what Jesus wants.  I believe he wants us to enjoy “the kingdom of God,” and to share of what we have.  He fasted, yes, so the story goes, but he never said we should do it for forty days.  Early Christian Church leaders were all about encouraging the illiterate flock to deny itself pleasures, to self-flagellate, to perform outrageous acts of penance, and all manner of self-mortifications, while they sat back in their gold-gilded rooms feasting.  It almost became sort of a contest: who can sleep on a bed of nails the longest?  Who can pick the worst self-abusive behaviors for the glory of God?  The body was, after all, sinful.

Well, if we are made in the image and likeness of the Divine, then I say our bodies are sacred and meant to be treated as such.  In light of that, here are twenty suggestions for alternative, life-affirming things we can do for the next forty days.


-Commit to doing some kind of act of self-care.

-Accept and celebrate positive things about yourself and others in active, real ways.

-Do something creative every day and then throw a party after that time to culminate the resurrection of (or the evolution of) your creativity.

-Do something kind (and in secret) for someone every day—especially perhaps for those you may not “like,” or who are “different,” than you.

-Take time to expand your understanding of things like feminism, racism, gender studies, white-privilege, etc., and ways to get involved locally and/or globally to help the world.

-Send someone (the same person or different) an email every day with a silly joke or inspirational quote.

-Sing every day–your favorite song, a new song, a silly song, a made-up song—to yourself, in the shower, at work, while walking, to strangers, to friends, to family.

-Try a new food every day and/or share food with someone else.

-Make every effort to sit down with your whole family for dinner.

-Every time you catch yourself thinking something judgmental towards someone, including yourself, reframe that thought into something loving, positive, and compassionate.

-Donate your time and resources to someone or an organization that helps others.

-Read spiritual literature every morning and/or evening.  Or, at very least, read something other than online news—a story, a children’s book, poetry, a biography. You get the idea.

-Take time to learn about different faith traditions with the goal of looking for similarities and places your faiths converge.

-Eat breakfast and/or health(ier) foods.

-Take one little (or big) step towards your dream every day.

-Take a moment to breathe consciously outside.

-Take a moment to notice—really notice—a tree, flower, cloud, a loved one, your own amazingness.

-Throw away, or give away, one thing in your living space that you haven’t touched, noticed, used in ages.

-Inventory your life a little each day.  Ask yourself how you’re doing as a citizen of the world.  Be honest.  No shame.  Just objective self-reflection.  What are you doing well?  Where can you improve?  Are there any amends to make?  And so on.

-Go ahead and eat something you absolutely love.


The list is endless and as varied as you.  The point is, instead of Lent being a time of denying things we like and love, we make it a time of embracing what we love in mindful, attentive, fun, and thankful ways.

It might also be fun to have your worship community, your family, your co-workers, and so on—commit to doing one of these affirming activities together and then celebrate the revelations and resurrections of playfulness and appreciation that hopefully would result by doing such a shared ritual.

As the season unfolds, it’s OK to start up a new “Forty Days,” anytime.  It’s OK to celebrate the resurrection of anything that was lost and then found.

And, of course, it is the hope the cultivation of these positive things would extend far after Lent (or at least much longer than most New Year’s Resolutions); that they would become habits, so to speak, or perhaps, continually evolving spiritual practices.

You might be wondering what I have chosen to do this Lenten season.  As of the writing of this post, I have the flu, so I am not committing to anything that puts me in contact with anyone else until I am officially not contagious.  For now, I am committing to telling myself something nice about myself every day.  I also commit to send little messages of appreciation and inspiration to someone different every day.  Look in your inbox.

Have fun.

Happy Lent.



opening flower




All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you. <3



Summer Re-Runs: The Spiritual Aspects to the Parts of Speech, Part III, Adjectives

Dear Wonder Child Blog Readers,

A couple years ago I did a little series on the spiritual aspects of the parts of speech. It generated a lot of visits and discussions.  It was also one of my favorites to write. Today I am reposting Part III, Adjectives.  I hope you like it. Let me know, as poetically as you can.  If you want to read the rest of this series, look in the category archives on the left side of this page for the category, The Parts of Speech. 



The Spiritual Aspects

Of the Parts of Speech,

Part III: Adjectives


Joseph Anthony


Adjectives are the painting words in our language.  You could
say, the lion, and that
would technically be a complete sentence, but why not say what the lion is
doing?—The lion roars.  Next, imagine what the lion looks like: The golden lion roars.  Or,
The wild-eyed, golden-maned lion roars with the roar of creation
.  The
sentences with the adjectives are more interesting.  They give you a
better picture.  You could say, the
flower grows
, or, the
dew-dappled, red rose grows
.  See what I mean?

Our handy online etymology dictionary says that the origins for
the word adjective mean to add to or throw
.  What words do you add to the names of things?  Do you
throw in swear words?  Do you add pet-phrases that somehow describe what
you are saying?  Are the describing words you use mostly of a visual
nature?  Do you speak in generalities or can you be specific?

Reflect on the nature of adjectives.  Really play with
them, for adjectives make the creation alive and interesting—they are the
painters and poets of our language.  They are creators and
catalysts.  Imagine, for example, what color God is.  What color is
His/Her hair?  Reflect on the colors of emotions.  What color is
pain?  What color is joy?  Reflect
on the sounds you listen to.  Which sounds do you love?  Which sounds
are grating?  Reflect on the textures of things.  Do you prefer soft
clothes or rough?  Hold someone’s hand today, a friend, spouse, or a
child, and describe what that is like—both the feel of their hand and the
feeling that act brings to your heart.  Reflect on the colors you see in a
given day—or do you see them?  Is your life grey and covered in
dust?  If so, do a cleaning and get out the paint brushes of adjectives
and color your world with beautiful descriptions.  Reflect on the
qualities that describe the Divine.  And let’s not forget about the sense
of smell.  Reflect on the kinds of smells you love.  Describe
them.  What does heaven smell like?  What does love smell like? Try
to use adjectives in every sentence you say today—try and use all the senses
too.  Even if it sounds outrageous and silly—talk like an eccentric
poet.  Have fun and play with adjectives.


Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog

A Walk on the Lighter Side–Some Playful Jokes, Sayings, Puns, and Riddles

Laughing is inner jogging.—Norman Cousins

Along the journey of following Your Heart’s Desire we all need a good laugh now and then.  In the tradition of the Prairie Home Companion’s Annual Joke Night, I hereby declare, Friday, June 3rd, as our day to laugh here at the Wonder Child Blog.  Enjoy, and please send in your own funnies.  Maybe we’ll do this more than just once a year!  And hopefully we laugh here on other days too, of course…But for today…It’s laughing yoga time!


He hits from both sides of the plate.  He’s amphibious.—Yogi Berra

I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly.

–Steven Wright

You can’t have everything.  Where would you put it?—Steven Wright

A good pun is its own reword

Déjà Moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this cow before.

Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

I get enough exercise just by pushing my luck.


What’s white when it’s dirty?—a blackboard.

What goes, “Oom, oom, oom?”—a cow walking backwards.

What’s the difference between here and there?—the letter t.

What’s the longest word in the dictionary?—Smiles.  There’s a mile between the first and last letter.

What do you call an ice cream man in Arizona?—The Good Yuma Man.

Wacky-Business Card:

Mr. Phil T. Hans—Soap Manufacturer


Many years ago, a baker’s assistant called Richard the Pourer, whose job it was to pour the dough mixture in the making of sausage rolls, noted that he was running low on one of the necessary spices. He sent his apprentice to the store to buy more.

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the shop, the young man realized that he had forgotten the name of the ingredient. All he could do was to tell the shopkeeper that it was for Richard the Pourer, for batter for wurst.


 A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of his office and asked them to disperse. “But why?” they asked, as they moved away. “Because,” he said, “I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

Some Odd Book Titles and their Odd Authors

Downpour! By Wayne Dwops
Cloning by Ima Dubble
Handel’s Messiah by Ollie Luyah
Avoiding High Construction Costs by Bill Jerome Home
The Pain of Unemployment by Anita Job
The Tiger’s Revenge by Claude Butz
The French Chef by Sue Flay
Tight Situation by Leah Tard

More Groaners

There were two ships. One had red paint, one had blue paint. They collided. At last report, the survivors were marooned.

Question: How did Christopher Columbus finance his trip to America? Answer: With the Discover Card.

Office door of NASA executive: ‘Out to Launch.’

Recently a guy in Paris nearly got away with stealing several paintings from the Louvre. However, after planning the crime, getting in and out past security, he was captured only 2 blocks away when his lorry ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied: I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh.

And One More for the Road

Scientists found a way to clone a bit of Shakespeare’s DNA and recreate The Great Bard. Naturally, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN were vying with each other to get him on their networks. When they approached Mr. S with their offers, how did he respond? TV or not TV, that is the question.

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog