Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reflections on Lent

Things I learned during my Lenten fast:
  1. This isn’t a new year’s resolution.  It’s a disciplinary practice to make us think about our priorities.  
  2. Relapse happens.  The point is not to give up when we blow it but to figure out how and why we continue to make that “priority” more important than our commitment to our spiritual practices.
  3. Every time you think about your “forbidden” thing you have the opportunity to think about how this thing takes over your life and your other commitments.  It’s not so much that you quit a bad habit or take on a healthier one – what do you do with the time you would have spent on this?  What do you do with the money you spent on this? Are you more consciously aware? Are you willing to spend your time and money on something that brings you closer to your spiritual self instead?
  4. Has my “fast” moved me to be more thoughtful in my practice or use of that priority I gave up?  My fast did not stop me from getting incensed at the political stupidity that has been running rampant.  It did not keep me from feeling ashamed of the people who still believe that by sharing we lose.  Yet, I have stopped letting every idiotic, prejudiced, ignorant political attack rile me to the point of rage.  I have learned that no one listens to ranting – it just makes them look at you like you’re a crazy person. I’ve been rereading a lot more of the quotes attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi lately.  
  5. I have also learned that the reason I get so riled up has a lot to do with my own feelings that others think I’m unintelligent just because I think we should all have the same rights and privileges.  My own feelings of inadequacy and insignificance contribute to my anger about a lot of things.  Self-affirmation is a daily practice that has to happen long past 40 days.
  6. I have learned that I am guilty of the sin of generalization.  I thought I was good at carefully wording my thoughts to avoid this. Evidently, I don’t do so well when it’s a group with whom I wholeheartedly disagree.  I have been working on not lumping “all conservatives” into the same pit and I continue to work on not letting the over-generalization of “us filthy liberals” make me forget all that I’ve learned.
  7. I have been reminded that I am in control of my feelings and, therefore, can choose how I express them.   And, although I am in charge of how I feel and respond to anything – I am not in charge of the outcome.  Ever.
  8. I think the biggest lesson for me is that it is absolutely ok to be passionate.  It is absolutely ok to act passionately.  And it is absolutely, 100% OK for me to share that passion with others.  The part of the lesson that I still have to work on is that it’s absolutely ok for your passion to differ from mine. 

I hope your Lenten season (whether you participated in fasting or not) has been a beautiful and meaningful time of self-discovery.   

Palm and Easter Sundays 2012

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