Saturday, March 8, 2014

A Gentle Lent

Elizabeth Esther opened a Gentle Lent link-up on Ash Wednesday.  I was definitely going to link up a blog post.  I always write a blog post for Ash Wednesday.  Lent is my thing.  And then…I didn’t. 

In preparation for Lent, I took a moment of spontaneous solitude on Monday to smudge the house.  It is a ritual that breaks up the heaviness that clogs a space when emotional upheaval has taken place, when unresolved conflict lingers on, when grief and anger become bitterness and rage swept under the carpet.  I knew the house, my life, my marriage, needed some clearing but I didn’t consider how much that twenty-minute burning of dried weeds would exhaust me.  Sure, I have chronic fatigue as a major symptom of my hysterical illness but, holy frijole! was I sick and exhausted afterward. 

Then, of course, because I hate to follow rules and always celebrate moments of breaking them, I threw all dietary caution to the wind on Fat Tuesday, knowing that I was going to begin an even more restrictive food plan on Wednesday.  Wow, did that food mess me up!  Just a little Starbucks scone and latte with milk, some enchiladas for lunch, and popcorn in the evening—regular food, not even a wild and crazy bender. 

So, by Ash Wednesday itself, I lay in bed feeling like I was sackcloth and ashes, no need to put them on.  No post got written, no blog got linked; I didn’t even get out of my pajamas or comb my hair.  By Thursday, I was back on my feet enough to get to Restorative Yoga and to lead the Chant class I have taken on this year but that was it, back to bed I went. Emotionally flogging myself all the while for not having met my own expectations.

Today, I popped over to Elizabeth’s blog to see what other people had written for Gentle Lent.  The first thing I noticed, though it was in tiny print at the bottom of the page, was that the link-up was still open.  A window of Grace! I could still participate even though I was three days late.  Woohoo!

Then I began to read some of the entries.  So many of them spoke of setting intentions and failing to live up to them, as if Lent were religious version of just-hate-yourself-now unsuccessful New Year’s Resolutions.  So many bloggers wrote of their relief that Gentle Lent accepted failure, set up low expectations, simply wanted us to Be instead of Do. 

The proverbial light bulb went off over my head.  Isn’t that what I preach All. The. Time?

Don’t Do.
Accept what Is and Love Always. 
Let Grace Happen. 

I had to laugh at my own hubris.  I hadn’t failed at Lent on the very first day.  I’d only begun to enter into the liturgical adventure of self-discovery.  Lent itself gave me the gift of falling down on the very first day of trying to Do Lent from my ego self.  Lent gave me the gift of grace, the opportunity to realize my ego had tripped me up once again, the chance to repent, to turn away, from that self-flagellating ego and Be once again.

Falling down isn’t failure.  It is an opportunity to get up, turn away, and walk around the obstacle that caused the stumble.  Transformation occurs the second we turn our face in a new direction. Grace always gives you a second chance.  That’s what grace is. 


    An InLinkz Link-up

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