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Thursday, February 19, 2015

My Lenten Sacrifice er Opportunity!

Image result for lent   So. Do you do Lent?  Do you pick something to give up for a chunk of time in these last few days of winter? Although I was baptized into a faith that celebrates this season I was raised by skeptical parents who were highly offended by the midieval disciplinary methods used in the parochial school my sister attended and before I was old enough to have an opinion our family joined the ranks of the non-church going secular Americans of the post-war decades.

Mama was certainly a spiritual person - I am sure she was a closet Druid - but if you got too interested in the philosophy of being good - rather than the obedience to parents aspect - you were going to be teased by Daddy who invariably called you Sister Mary Margaret.
Image result for hells burning pits
So my spirituality went deep inside and shivered in anxiety about dying "before I waked and my soul not getting taked" by the big guy upstairs. Lordy the nights I went to bed terrified I wasn't going to wake up and maybe there would be burning pits of hell licking at my feet.

Image result for druid priestessFortunately I became a naughty teenager and my dad had a heart attack and suddenly Church and God and Religion and Convent Schools didn't look so bad to him so off I was packed to what turned out to be a wonderful school with kind and liberal teachers who married late 60's philosophy to ancient church doctrines and presented it to this particular teenager in a way that met her spiritual needs. I'm not sure how many Other Girls are wracked with the oft blamed Catholic Guilt but I loved my experience at the convent and hold it close to me still - even if I do it all in my own way - heavily influenced by my Druid mama.

And one of the rituals I love from those long ago years of formal religion is the ritual of Lent. Totally untutored in the doctrine, I believe I understand the intent - which may once have been a primitive way of helping the unlettered get through those last few weeks of near famine that would have been a 12th century February - but certainly now is an opportunity - in this secular, high-tech, over fed, multi-tasking, frivolous era - an opportunity to stop what you are doing, consider the consequences of your actions, identify something that is unnecessary and let it leave your life - even if only for 40 days.

Usually I pick something of a gustatory nature. One year it was to give up Diet Pepsi - which I successfully did but in such a bad spirit, with so much grumbling, that I realized I had done more damage to my soul than anything. I tried that again the next year with a better spirit and came to understand how valuable taking the spirit of the Lenten sacrifice into your heart truly is. It's not a sacrifice - it's an opportunity!  Wow!

Image result for pet rescueSo this year I looked around at my life with an eye to the frivolous - the disrespectfully wasteful and identified my target - the iPad matching game apps that suck up minutes and even hours of my time - time that could be used for things that would make me Feel So Good. In my case it's prayer and meditation - two names for the same action of becoming quiet and going within to listen to The Voice. I call it God - and I am utterly convinced that He doesn't care what I call it. But it is easy to blast through life saying "yes yes. I hear you. be back in a sec. let me finish ________________"  and you can fill in the blank.  But at the end of my life I know He's going to say "Come here, sit down beside me and tell me about yourself. What did you do with the life I gave you?"

and  honestly - I don't want to tell Him I spent 10998723487120348045 minutes playing matching games on an iPad. I'd so much rather be able to say "oh - remember that great prayer/conversation we had in 2015? That made me feel so good and helped me do good.  Thanks!"

So the plan is to delete all the games on my iPad and every time I feel the urge to pick up that little plastic slate and tap away, I will instead stop and get quiet and go to my praying place - that spot deep inside me - and have a chat.


  1. :-) Being brought up Anglican (er...Episcopal where you are), I experienced no RC guilt or angst...and longed to be a nun, but never knew till almost 50 that there were Anglican nuns in Canada -- since 1864, Sigh. But yes, I too tend to be rather poor at being as quiet as I'd like as often as I'd like, getting with God. I am much better at DO-ing than BE-ing. Hence I refer you to this lovely poem by Marie Howe: Blessings for a holy Lent. Hugs!

  2. I don't so much give stuff up (the tradition I was brought up was less interested in "don't eat chocolate for 40 days" or whatever) but most years I do try to be a better person - particularly not getting angry at random people, like the person blocking the aisle at the grocery store. (Oh, I never express that anger to THEM, but I can feel it seething up in me, and what I try to do is just let it go, by saying stuff like, "Well, they're really busy" or "Well, sometimes you do stuff that annoys other people," things like that.)

    Essentially I try harder to love my neighbor - which is probably the Commandment I fail at the hardest.