Today is pancake day. Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras. It is a day of using up all luxuries and extravagances in order to prepare for the fasting time of Lent. Lent is a time when people used to prepare for their baptism. It then became a time when people did some self reflection. It has now become a second New Years for us. You know those New Year's resolutions that you made and broke earlier in the year. Well now you can have a second chance with the coming of Lent. You can make those resolutions once more and this time the bonus part is you just have to make the changes for 6 and a half weeks. What a bargain. The strengthening of faith, the giving up of a bad habit and it is only 6 and a half weeks long.
I have a stock answer when asked what I am giving up for Lent. I tell people that I am giving up Brussels sprouts and liver. When pressed that I don't eat these things the rest of the year either, I tell people that my faith has not been sufficiently strengthened by the time Easter rolls around, and so I need to continue on my Brussels sprouts fast. It's not that I don't agree with the idea of fasting and self examination. I just know that any real spiritual change must be a life long process and can't happen with a month and a half boot camp. For the same reason I don't make New Year's Resolutions, I don't make a huge Lenten declaration.
I have previously adopted the modern method of adding something to my daily life as part of my Lenten practice. One year I brought a can each day for the local foodbank as a way of reaching out to others in need. One year, I took self examination to a new level by blogging each day which was a truly difficult exercise. I truly began to understand what writer's block feels like. Another year I did a kind deed each day- but then I figured as an old boy scout, I was doing that already. Doing good deeds during lent is nothing new to me. I try to do good deeds each day.
So what will be my Lenten practices this year? If I am not formally going to give up things or formally do extra things, what will I do to mark this season of Lent. Well there are a few. One, I am going to limit my complaining. Yesterday I was able to recover some 10,000 photos that were buried on my computer and put them on my phone. I realized looking at them that I have a pretty great life. I have been to so many wonderful places. I have so many fantastic friends. I have my own wonderful family. Why complain when things are so good?
Second, I am going to work harder to spread joy. I know I like to spread joy where I go. I like a good joke. I like to smile. I like to point out the good and downplay the bad. However, I could be doing that more. People are feeling depressed right now. The news from the world is often dreary. The politicians the globe over, seem to have no idea of how to bring laughter into the world. I am going to use my gifts of positivity to bring light to my corner of the world and I am not going to be ashamed about doing that.
Third, I know that I have many gifts to share. But I know that my own abilities are limited. There are certain things I cannot do. Re-building an engine- you had better talk to someone else. Dancing Swan Lake, find anyone else. I might be able to do a few things well, but for so many things look to the person on my right or my left. I need to be more willing to ask for help. I need to know that it is ok to ask for assistance. Asking for help does not make me weak, it makes me smart. I need to push down my pride and over reliance on self and ask for help.
So there you have it. My Lenten list. No these things won't be done at Easter, but that is ok. If I make a wee bit of progress on these issues then I will be a better person. Oh and the Brussels sprouts and liver of the world is safe as well. Blessings.