“It is up to us to leave our country and our world a better place tomorrow than it is today. That is where true greatness lies.”
— Harvard President Lawrence S. Bacow, October 2018 Installation Address
What do you—and I—owe the world?
The approaching Lenten season, with its call for reflection, reconciliation, and renewal, is an ideal time to consider this question.
Lent invites us on a 40-day-long journey into the wilderness of our hearts, following the example of Jesus Christ. The Gospels narrate Jesus’ withdrawal into the Judean Desert for 40 days and nights.
Some assume that Lent is only about sacrifice and abstinence. But let us be reminded that “Lent” began as the Anglo-Saxon word for “spring.” The season of Lent is a time of new opportunity. It’s not simply about what we can deny, but also new habits that we might begin.
Let us then approach Lent as an opportunity to make a fresh start. Let us quiet our minds and nurture our souls. Let us take stock of our lives and deeply consider—What do we owe the world? How can we leave the world a better place tomorrow than it is today?
Let us ask if we are each as fully committed to the pursuit of kindness, justice, and love as we would like to be? What changes do we need to make?
Below, we offer simple suggestions for enlarging our collective capacity for compassion, empathy, and love during the Lenten season.
Join me and the entire MemChurch staff in making these 40 days a time of reflection, renewal, and rededication. Let us not be daunted by the enormity of our task but seek only to do better, to be better. We can thus become ever more committed to acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly.
Jonathan L. Walton
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister
in the Memorial Church of Harvard University
View this guide for simple suggestions during Lent on how to make this a time of new beginnings.