Lent is almost over, and I am in a reflective mood–thinking about my Lenten journey and what I may have heard God whisper in response to my penance and promises.
What I learned: Even though it was at a massive discount and I would get a lot of wear out of it (with pedal pusher leggings and cardigan in the spring! Sandals and short shrug on the 4th!), I can’t unnecessarily indulge myself with everything just because I can afford it. I can put my money toward more worthy causes and get just as nice a dress elsewhere, for cheaper still.
What I learned: Okay, so I caved and had wine and other kinds of drinks on not-official Solemn Feast Days. Most were celebratory (we elected a pope! Argentinian wine was almost required…), but one night it was “just because it tastes good,” and I found myself justifying more and more. I was home with a book and perfectly safe and sound, but it really hit home the next day when it was all gone and I was going to try to get back on track. I need discipline when it comes to treating myself. If I don’t master this skill, it may be harder to resist justifying “just one more” when it comes to bigger things.
Episodes of Cash Cab right after work.
What I learned: I gave up this daily mind-treat as an exercise in denying myself something good. I had intended to do more blogging and writing and spiritual reading, but all I ended up doing most work nights was queuing up some other show online. So this was a lesson in following more than the letter of the law. I’m not just supposed to rationalize one action because it’s not a specific action. That knowledge, too, will be useful beyond Easter Sunday.
Wearing this jacket on mild days:
What I Learned: Modesty of the heart…if that’s an actual expression. Part of my desire to wear this jacket was to feel pretty and attractive on my way to Mass or work or out with friends. Particularly on Sundays, I would see my friend in jeans and a long-sleeve flannel perfectly reverent and loving Christ and being Christ to me through her weekly charity, and i would realize that if I let my inner beauty radiate out, it won’t matter how stylish my jacket is.
No music on the way to and from work.
What I learned: I intended to use my nearly hour-long commute (walk, subway, bus, walk) to and fro work in silence, trying to hear (or see) what God was trying to get across, which I thought could be blocked by the noise in my ears. And while I sometimes can find God in great lyrics, I wanted to challenge myself to listen in new ways. Well, I began to notice that there was a woman with mental and physical challenges sharing my route. One day I glanced from the bus window to see another woman helping her to her own bus. I was so glad to see that charity, that communion of persons. And in the coming weeks, I was alighting from the subway and because my ears weren’t plugged, I heard her request help, and I walked her and had a nice chat. The next week, an older gentleman took her arm. It was truly beautiful to see everyone acting as the Body of Christ and treating this woman with the dignity she has.
A promise: To make spur-of-the-moment daily sacrifices and see what they bring.
What I learned: I can have the most interesting thoughts (was Jesus ever freezing?, on the slushy way into work when i could have taken a cab) or none at all (last night, when I didn’t grab a snack — it just was). As I’ve said before, there is grace just in the trying.
What I learned: You have to take some sacrifices seriously if you actually want to follow through with them. I probably should have had a better plan in place than just buying a box of lemongrass-spiked green tea. Lemongrass is a candle scent, not a flavor. I had more morning coffees than not, and because I didn’t buy a can at the store, I over-spent at Starbucks. There were some nights I really did put myself to bed early enough only to not be able to fall asleep (wired mind) or to wake up too early (tiny bladder). My conclusion right now: if a food product makes you human, and regular, safe intake is less harmful than going crazy denying yourself until you explode and gorge, maybe it doesn’t need to be sacrificed, but the conditions that lead you to feel like you need it.