I don't think I ever really understood what Lent was when I was younger. No meat on Fridays, 40 days till Easter, ashes, long Masses, Stations of the Cross...rituals I was required to participate in...to me, it just all brought an additional pall to the long dreary days of winter.
Now I have to say I really appreciate it. I appreciate the countdown to Spring. I understand that anticipation for new beginnings, using self-control and self-discipline, taking steps back from the materialism and excess's of life, allow me to fully feel and appreciate, with gratitude, all that I have.
I think of the times in life where I was at my lowest. Years ago, after consecutive miscarriages, I had to climb out of the bottom of deep dark well. I hated it down there but looked up and couldn't see any light. When I finally saw a pin point, and took the journey to reach it, climbed out, the light was brighter than I ever remembered it being. The baby that was born after those losses brought me an entire new level of ecstatic joy I never knew existed. The reward was as high, as the dark place was low.
Our lives now...we can get almost anything we want, can't we? Simple pleasures...waiting for that first June strawberry. We go visit the grocery store, and there's a whole quart of them for $3.99! Waiting for a special letter in the mail...waiting to hear the postman at the door. Who write letters anymore? Thanks to technology...it's all instant. I find myself frustrated and annoyed when a line doesn't move fast enough, the ATM isn't working, my computer is slow, a store doesn't have what I need that very day.
To me that's what Lent is about. I time to step back and WAIT. A bit of deprivation to fully appreciate all that I have. A chance to cleanse my spirit (and home!) of excess and greed, and bad habits...to observe my self and really see what it is that I've become...to look inward and check to see what's there...because that's where the OUTWARD stuff comes from.
Here are my Lenten Resolutions:
1. I am cooking meatless meals for 40 days. This might sound extreme..it involves a whole additional post to explain...coming soon.
2. I LOVE this idea: 40 bags in 40 days. (I don't think we'd have a thing left, since I'm a habitual purger anyways...but I'm really committed to doing this, on a smaller scale...to go through every single thing in this house.)
3. I am reading a chapter of Proverbs every day. Don't you just love Proverbs? Even if you aren't religious, they are just beautiful snippets of knowledge, plainly written, univerally true...all those little things you want to teach your children about life.
4. I really want to do some acts of service...but at the same time, I am committed to being at home with my children. Every idea I think of...tutoring, baking, volunteering somewhere...I just can't really handle the logistics in real life, right now, and still be everything my family needs me to be. I saw this quote in a book the very same day I was feeling frustrated by this.
"Start by making your own home a place where happiness and love abound, through your love for each member of your family and for your neighbour. Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home. Make them long to be with their families. So much sin could be avoided if our people really love their homes.