This is my first posting of 2015. It was definitely a whirlwind end of 2014: I ended a chapter in my life and turned the page to begin a new one. After three years of writing an almost daily blog about gratitude (Lessons in Gratitude) I wrote my last post to that blog on Christmas day 2014 and a post here on December 30. After that it was all about scrambling to finish organizing and packing my stuff for a major move to a different place to start a new job and a new phase of my life. Many times over the past few weeks as I’ve settled into a new home and beginning the next phase of my career, I’ve noodled around quite a few times with various things I would write about and for one reason or another I found myself too preoccupied or flat out exhausted by the end of the day to sit down and write anything except for additions to my never-ending to-d0 list.
As the Christian season of Lent was approaching I felt, as I do each year, a particular tug toward wanting to observe this solemn period in the Christian calendar. Once upon a time when I was more participatory in my Catholic faith and years later as an unlikely member of a fundamentalist Christian church, I observed Lent in whatever manner seemed appropriate at the time. While I have long stopped practicing the formal rites, rituals, and gatherings of any faith tradition, I nonetheless am drawn to observing two of the seasons in the Christian faith that I find still resonate strongly with me today: Advent and Lent. For me, both of these are times of quiet reflection–Advent in joyful expectation and anticipation, Lent in solemn anticipation of grief followed by immense joy.
This is, of course, an oversimplification of both. I am not a theologian and thus cannot explain the history and liturgical importance and the many nuances of a particular doctrine. I simply find that the 40 days of Lent–which began today with Ash Wednesday–provide for me a useful framework for focusing inward and reflecting on any number of themes and their parallels and significance to things in my life. In addition to giving up some things (subtractive), I also want to add some practices to deepen my experiences during this time. One of them is to write some brief reflections on a variety of themes every day here in this blog. So for the next 40, now 39 days I commit to writing both as exploration and spiritual practice.
Some who read all 1,000 days of my gratitude blog will know that sometimes I sit and struggle, staring at the “blinking cursor of death,” incessantly flashing on the empty canvass that is my blog window. There are days I will struggle to write anything. But that is the beauty of the practice. You know the adage “Practice makes perfect.” It isn’t perfect makes perfect, and imperfection is implied in that we are being encouraged to practice. (I almost wrote about the curse of perfection and the blessing of “good enough,” this evening, but I didn’t have the energy to pull it together.
So tonight’s blog is not really particularly profound, but simply a way to say “Hello, may I sit with you a while and enjoy the quiet and then share a few thoughts?” I will work on profundity for perhaps as soon as tomorrow. We shall see.
Lent can’t be all about giving things up. What things are you taking in, acting on, living into during the next 40 days? What are you adding, not simply subtracting? These are the questions I am also asking of myself. We’ll see what we learn over the weeks ahead.