Dear Pope Francis,
Though Lent officially started yesterday, it feels like today is the real start of the Lenten season. Now is when we start to really focus in on our sins, our transgressions, the really awful stuff that we do that we need to get rid of, and just generally how awful we are.
Yeah, I’m going with a bit of a different approach to Lent this year. As I wrote yesterday about Earth Wednesday, I see Lent as a time for reflection, yes, but maybe not a time to beat myself up. Instead, I’m going to focus on giving things up that might be weighing me down.
I know that I have habits and ways of seeing the world and my place in it that aren’t supportive. Sometimes they can get in the way of things. The image that springs to mind, for me, is the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz. When he meets Dorothy, he can’t even speak because he’s stood out in the rain and rusted shut. Only when Dorothy oils his joints is he free to speak and move and join the journey down the Yellow Brick Road.
I see Lent as a time to explore where my spiritual joints have gone rusty. Attending to those and maybe making some changes, or adding new habits, is like applying a spiritual oil can. It loosens things up again so I can be present in my day-to-day life in a new way, and continue on my journey a bit lighter and with a spring in my step.
As Lent approached this year, I got to thinking about some practices I wanted to incorporate and maybe some things I wanted to let go of over the next 40 days. The key here is that I’m not going to weigh myself down again with different obligations. That’s something I can easily do. For example, I thought I might get up an extra hour early so I could do the Daily Office and reflect on that day’s readings. Then I realized I already get up quite early to do the work I do, so that probably would not be supportive. I find I need to be truthful with myself about what will be supportive for me, and not some ideal that won’t serve me at all.
So, here’s what I’ve decided on for Lent 2014:
– At some point in the day, I will take some time out for contemplation. I’m always looking for ways to bring more silence to my daily life. I might read and reflect on that day’s readings, or I might meditate.
– I’m going to cut back a bit on my social media use. I won’t be eliminating it altogether, but I will be a bit more intentional about it.
– I’d like to post every day to this blog. I haven’t always kept up with my tagline. That’s OK. Things happen. But, for Lent, I’d like to post daily.
– I’d like to be more intentional around the food I consume. So, for Lent, I’m not going to eat out, unless I’m sharing a meal with friends. That way it’s both a giving up and an adding to. I’ve been sick off and on since Christmas, culminating in a rather nasty bout of pneumonia, and I’ve got a bit of cabin fever and a feeling of disconnection from my friends. (Hint to my friends: I am free for dinner in Lent!).
So, there they are, three things I’m going to attend to during Lent as a way of letting go of what might be weighing me down.
I will report on how this goes (I’m writing every day…I’ll need material).
Feel free to share in the comments what supportive things you’re doing during Lent to lift any burdens you might be unnecessarily carrying.