I am not Christian, really. I was baptized in the Catholic Church as a baby, sent to Protestant elementary schools and a Catholic high school. I have been more and less religious at various times in my life. I recently considered Catholic confirmation and then at Christmas discovered that my beliefs just don't line up there. But I still like Lent.
It comes, I'm sure, from high school. Although at the time I declared in no uncertain terms that I Was Not Catholic and Would Not be Giving Anything Up, it always intrigued me.
Echos of those enforced liturgies stayed with me; I love the idea of a period of meditation, of quiet contemplation--which is how Lent was presented to us in school. We were encouraged not merely to give something up--chocolate, smoking, soda--but to commit to something for those forty days that would bring us closer to God. Volunteering weekly at a shelter, praying daily, practicing yoga, or the more traditional abandonment of vice. Anything that could align your body or mind with the Divine, create a space of practiced awareness of Its presence.
So, although I won't be crossed with ashes today, I'll begin a meditative period. I'll think today about what to commit to, what conscious practice I can begin to realign with that quiet space in me, or with God.
And now a poem, from the Writers' Almanac today, because I liked it and because it felt like a quiet space.
The moon keeps on traveling and I can see it
from my balcony each night and each night
different but it's not my own, not like we want
things to be our very own. But it sways me
nevertheless and stands in for certain losses
and gains and for even that much I'm grateful.
I stand at the back door and stare.
"Personal" by Irene McKinney, from Vivid Companion. © Vandalia Press, 2004.