I’ve been sitting here looking at a blank piece of paper, interspersed with time searching for ideas of what to write about for this blog released to be released on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Christians. I’ve had a few thoughts pass through my head:
- The childhood years of eggs and noodles for Friday dinner and tuna fish for lunch – no meat on Fridays was required.
- Grade school years of giving up chocolate, candy, cookies, or something else and putting a penny in the missions’ box to collect money for those in need.
- Junior year religion class when we were challenged to show love to someone each day instead of forgoing a favorite treat (a la Fr. Martin’s blog last year – Be Kind at https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/03/01/fr-james-martin-sj-be-kind-lent
- Looking out the window this morning and wondering at the cloudy sky and my cold feet while considering how to make this day into something growth-inspired. This afternoon revealed a bright blue sky, clean and shiny leaves from yesterday’s rain, and beautiful pink and purple flowering shrubs. And this evening it is followed by dark clouds. Such a metaphor of life – constant evolution.
- Finley’s facial expression, as I showed in an Instagram post and below – full of joy and expectation. Which brought me to thoughts of C.S. Lewis via a blog by Dawn Klinge where she talks about Lewis’s view of joy. (You can check it out here https://www.dawnklinge.com/abovethewaves/7-thoughts-on-joy-from-cs-lewis).
- Searching and finding a book recommended for Lenten journeys by one of my favorite authors related to growth spiritually, Sue Monk Kidd. She recommended Gifts from Within, written by a group in Texas at Brigid’s Place. Interestingly, this is also tied back to my ancestral motherland of Ireland.
What is the common thread in all the musings I’ve had? I believe it to be there is no perfect way through Lent, or preparation for Easter or Passover. In reality, no perfect way to reach and experience joy, resurrected hope, true presence in our own lives of and with God. But it does take preparation, time, energy, and choices daily.
So, whether it is by 1) sacrifice, i.e.: fasting or giving up something; or giving something like love and kindness; or 2) reading the thoughts of others as shared in Gifts from Within; or 3) reading for my Jewish friends Kurshan in her first person article in The New York Jewish Week, “Preparing for Passover Physically and Spiritually” that reminds us that the history of Passover “begins with shame and ends with praise” (see https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/preparing-for-passover-physically-and-spiritually/); or 4) stretching and committing to really look at something around you (or within) each day like the change in the day from dreary to spring-like to stormy; or 5) watching the joy around you that comes from hope and expectation – they all count. Each one can take you farther along your spiritual path. And your psychological healing. And isn’t this really unfolding – opening up to more of what you want to be, hope to be, are within; but perhaps are unaware of because of something blocking you? Moving from shame to joy. So, start thinking – has one of the above ideas struck you as one to use? I’m using the book recommended by Sue Monk Kidd and a daily thought prompt from another group. One person I know is using a specific book with a goal of reading the complete book by Easter. Another person is writing her prayers daily. And another is just working on breathing – with reminders to himself in his calendar to work on decreasing his anxiety.
Pema Chodron said, “Nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know”. Carolyn Myss said it a bit differently, “Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow”. Lent and preparation for Passover are times for such growth for all. So…choose wisely this year.