Sunday, February 26, 2017

Lent Trap!

Yes, I know - it's a terrible pun. Bear with me.

March 1 is Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of the season of Lent. While traditions and mileage vary, many Christians use this 40-day season as a time of reflection and preparation for the Great Mystery of Christ's Passion. Some people give up something that they enjoy - maybe caffeine or sweets, maybe even going so far as to temporarily turn vegetarian or vegan. Other people put other sorts of restrictions on themselves, such as limiting social media time.

I've observed Lent in a number of ways, but one of the best, most meaningful ways for me was to avoid the "Lent trap" of giving up something or imposing restrictions on myself.

Instead - and keep in mind you don't have to observe Lent per se to try this - take up a good habit. Offer alms every day by setting aside a dollar or a quarter and donating that money to a worthy charity of your choice. Make a pledge to offer five strangers compliments every day. Let that other driver merge in (although you're right; they really ought to use their signal). Resolve to let your Beloved choose the show every time you settle onto the couch with the remote. Take the dog for a walk just because it's warm outside and the pup would enjoy spending time with you. Write a series of cheerful notes on sticky notes and put one on the bathroom mirror at work every day.

You see the pattern, I trust. Spread some joy. It doesn't have to be a big thing, but try hard to make it a consistent thing - a habit, if you will.

I've heard it said that in the Bible, God commands His children to "be joyful" SIX HUNDRED times. Maybe we ought to pay some attention to that. I plan to go forth and try my best to take Emerson's advice to "scatter joy" instead of putting so much effort toward feeling that my worth is measured by how much deprivation and want I can deliberately put myself through. Yes, God puts restrictions on our behavior - we're supposed to "love our neighbor as ourself," so let's get out there and smile, encourage, and hug instead of spending so much of our time on this whirling blue ball scolding, shaming, and judging.

Get your kindness on!

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