Today is Ash Wednesday, a holiday marking the beginning of Lent, my favorite season of the Christian calendar. During the 40 days of Lent, many Christians will spend time reflecting on their faith and their place in their spiritual journey as well as the sacrifices represented by the season. Many people — Christian and non-Christian– will also choose to focus on a making a conscious change in their lives. For some people this means fasting on Fridays, giving up Chocolate, deactivating Facebook, morning meditation, or focusing on changing their attitudes. More than anything, this is why I love Lent; it’s a time to practice sacrifice and discipline and to focus on growth and renewal.
Some years I choose to give things up and others I choose to add things to my life, but in every time I try to spend quiet time discerning what changes my life needs in this moment. This year, my clarity came during Yoga. While some people see yoga and Christianity as competing philosophies or religions, they seem to work together beautifully for me. This morning’s practice was a Valentine’s practice, intended to “open up the heart” – by literally stretching chest muscles and focusing on breathing. Approaching it through my Lent-lens meant also taking that hour to open my heart metaphorically.
As if I wasn’t already in the right place to meditate on what changes I would make for Lent, we featured a new breathing exercise in our routine – the Joy breath. Joy is my One Word Resolution for 2013 and has been the focus of my reflection so far this year. Up until now, practicing Joy has meant finding the silver linings, identifying the good things that happen in my life, and seeking out simple pleasures. For Lent, I’d like to focus on the giving of Joy instead.
On Ash Wednesday this scripture is usually studied : “From ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” For me this is a call to action to live out the TO in that phrase – what am I going to do with my life in the time before returning to ashes and dust? I am going to share joy and give of myself to others.
So for the next 40 days, I am going to focus on bringing joy into the lives of others. I cannot count the times I have intended to send cards to people I care about, but have only amassed stacks of beautiful cards instead. This month, I am going to send 20 cards and spend time crafting messages that are meaningful. I am going to give of my time – volunteering, talking and visiting with family, and playing flute at one of the Lenten Reflection Services on campus. If you have not already shared your address with me, I’d love to have you add it to my address book here.
How you are taking time to reflect in your life and make meaningful choices?