Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day 2 of Lent

Well, it's not supposed to be easy, is it? *sigh* I smashed my finger yesterday moving cinder blocks. It was excruciating. I rushed to put it in ice water, and took some ibuprofen, but as I sat there shaking what I really wanted was a good swift shot of scotch. Grace: I resisted. And thank God, it is not broken, just a bad bruise.

I did my lectio last night, with the day's reading from Vigils: Isaiah 58. A reminder that Lent is not about self-denial for its own sake, but about putting social justice before personal comfort. Today's non-biblical reading, from a sermon by Saint Leo the Great (a 5th-century pope) also focuses on charitable works. I think I am too self-centered, too "me and God alone" -- well, it's the hermit tendency, isn't it? But what kind of charitable works should I do?

When I was writing out my resolutions yesterday, I addressed the problem of too much inward focus by promising to reach out to friends and relatives more, to give more to relationships I already have. But what about people who are needier than I, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned ... what about charitable works? Still thinking about it this morning, it occurred to me that I left a job paying a 6-figure income and great benefits because I did not agree with my employer's social justice philosophy or approach. I felt that we were doing too much harm and not enough good. Now I am job-hunting in the non-profit sector. Yesterday I talked with someone about a job paying about 30% of my old job, and I am hoping I get it. Isn't that my almsgiving? Giving up personal material comfort for the greater good? OK, I cut myself a break. More important for me, with my own individual faults and failings, is to give more love, more time, more attention to my own friends and family. Charity begins at home, yes? Sure.

Meanwhile, yesterday I did NOT reach out to anyone. Today I will answer MM's note, make a connection.

Lent is good. Renewal is beautiful. Blessed be God forever.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

My resolutions:
  1. no alcohol & no computer games.
  2. exercise at least 4 times a week, strive for 6 (Monday - Saturday)
  3. spend at least 1/2 hour daily in lectio divina, journalling whatever reflections come out of it
  4. get out of my comfort zone with this job hunt. Today, that means making phone calls for "information interviews".
  5. one weekday Mass per week, let's say Wednesdays since we started today
  6. Reach out to people ... say, Saturday - Thursday, write or call at least one friend or relative per day. Fridays can be my hermit days.
I always try to make my Lenten resolutions habits that I need to be changing anyway, since 40 days is enough time to change a habit. Since my midlife crisis started to become a crisis, as I face running out of money and still haven't figured out how to support myself without going back to the kind of job I escaped from, my faith life has slipped as stress has built. That's not OK. I have always yo-yo'd back and forth between a life of intense prayer and a lukewarm indifference. I am not willing to do that any more, I want to get past this stumbling block, find the door to deeper prayer. This time, I am not going to give up on myself or on God, that is, on what I can be capable of with God powering me.

I'm tired of being a child; tired of giving up and retreating into distraction when things get challenging. This time, I will FAIL. Ha ha, no, I am serious. I am determined to fail! I am determined to TRY something, DO something, stretch my boundaries, go beyond what I already know how to do. I am determined to do what I don't know how to do, what I don't know that I can do, what is hard enough to not get right on the first try. To fail, because how else can I grow? How else can I learn something new, if I'm not willing to go into something I don't already know? I have to look stupid, or I'm not learning. I have to be a klutz, or I'm not training. I have to be a fat couch potato huffing and puffing and sweating, or I am not going to get fit and strong and sleek. I have to get turned down, or else I'm not asking enough. If I'm not willing to crash and burn, I'm not taking much of a leap of faith.

Eleanor Roosevelt said: "Do one thing every day that scares you". So underlying all my little Lenten disciplines and going beyond them, that is my resolution. It's what conversatio mora means to me: never stop growing.