The beginning of lent started last week (as did this post that I hadn’t finished). For those who aren’t sure what lent is all about, an article on Wikipedia will give you a historical account of how it started and why it’s observed.
Growing up Catholic, lent meant that I could not eat meat on Fridays and that I would have to give “something” up for 40 days. Actually, for most people I knew it was about giving something up with no real understanding of the reason why. Once the 40 days is over, most people go back to whatever it was they “gave up.” Granted, the 40 days were over but what most people gave up are bad habits that should be given up anyway. It’s kind’ve like a 40 day New Year’s resolution with an “end” date.
One of the reasons given for observing lent is as an act of penitence. That reason doesn’t bode well with me. I don’t believe that there is any penance we can do that would satisfy the wrong that we are constantly doing in both thought and action. Selfishness is at the core of our being and I, as of yet, have not found anyone who is selfless.
Having said that, I believe a period of time for introspection of one’s life is good for the soul. Posing questions and seeking answers from ourselves about our purpose in this life has benefits. Getting to know oneself anyone?
- What do I want to do with my life?
- Do my actions portray who I really am?
- Are my daily actions pointing me towards my goal in life or is the way I live hindering my goal?
- Do I have any goals?
- Are my thoughts lifting me up or bringing me down?
- Is there a purpose to what I do and who I am?
A book I read awhile back called Mind, Character and Personality has this quote:
“If the thoughts are wrong, the feelings will be wrong; and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.”
How true that is in my life. Sometimes I get stuck in negative thinking and in those times I find myself agitated, angry, selfish and accusatory. Focusing on good things lead me to good actions.
My lent observance will not be giving up chocolate, meat or TV (as good as that sacrifice will be for some people). Instead my focus will be more around how I live my life.
- Smiling at a person who is not smiling (too many frowns out there)
- Complimenting a person to lift them up
- Saying “Thank-you” for little things that are done for me (such as bagging my groceries)
- Calling a person who is ill, depressed or sick
Little things — if we all just majored in the minor things of life we would be so much happier. I need to starve the negative and feed the positive!
Hopefully, my intentional living to make life a little kinder for people will extend way past the 40 days of lent.