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TWIN FALLS — Forty days can feel like a lifetime when sacrificing the little things that help people get through the day.

But through such suffering comes personal improvement, according to some of the Magic Valley’s religious leaders as they and their congregations begin observing Lent, the 40-day period of penance between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday, the day before Easter.

There is no prescribed method for observing Lent, but reflection during this time is recommended, said the Rev. Buddy Gharring, the pastor at First United Methodist Church of Twin Falls.

The Methodist Church will be having gatherings throughout the 40 days called “Holding Space,” a chance to talk about introspection gained through sacrifice. Conversations take place 9:30 a.m. at 360 Shoshone St. E.

“This is a great period of time to create some space and silence in life,” Gharring said. “There are often thoughts and emotions we try and keep ourselves distracted with. I think Lent is best spent trying to work through those emotions and distractions and going towards community.”

People often give up physical things: coffee, chocolate or meat, said the Rev. Anne Palma, pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church. She encourages people to try to have a smaller environmental impact and reduce plastic use. There is also a large shift toward giving up bad spiritual habits, she said; giving up gossiping, malice or turning it into positive feelings.

Every Wednesday through Lent the Lutheran church will offer soup at 6 p.m. and a service at 7 p.m. at 464 Carriage Lane N.

The church will be collecting money to give to the Salvation Army at the end of Lent, she said. An alternative to giving up is giving back. Palma recommends collecting something that you can part with each day of Lent and giving it away to the less fortunate.

“If we suffer a little, the hope is that we turn our attention to God,” Palma said.

Ultimately Lent is about saying no to pathologies of indulgence, said the Rev. Joseph Lustig, the priest at St. Edward’s Catholic Church.

Lent serves as a reminder that humans are mortal and should put more time toward a higher power, he said. Saint Edward’s is offering a day retreat in English March 16 and in Spanish March 23 at 161 Sixth Ave. E.

“When I can’t look at my phone 50 times a day, I see where I’m spending all my time,” Lustig said.

Lent is a good time to practice self-control even if you aren’t religious, Lustig said. It’s an opportunity to try out a new diet or start spring cleaning.

“Be hungry so you know you exist,” Lustig said.

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