Saturday, March 12, 2011


Lent has gotten a bad reputation throughout some of history.  Many view this season of the liturgical year as punitive, and "give up" something as an obligation without really understanding the thought process behind this action.  It is not about denying yourself chocolate or caffeine or swearing or whatever else to suffer during the season of Lent. It is about giving things up to make space.  Making space for reflection, service and prayer.  For me, Lent is less about giving up something than it is about adding something to my life that will provide space for reflection and opportunities for service.  I started this practice five years ago when I was serving as a volunteer working with homeless women.  That year (2006) I decided to build more open and fulfilling relationship with the women I was serving instead of attempting to manage chaos all the time.  In subsequent years I have added daily running (2007), daily journaling (2008), working my way through three Dietrich Bonhoeffer books (2009) and volunteering at a community health clinic (2010).

This year, being that I find myself operating on the edge of chaos pretty much all the time, I have decided to incorporate 15 minutes a day before bed of just sitting quietly.  For those of you that know me well, I am really terrible at sitting still and being quiet.  Last November I attended a silent retreat which was very difficult for me, but I came away feeling so open and rejuvenated.  It is amazing how caught up we can get in the tasks and over-stimulation of our daily lives.  I really crave the feeling of just being.  This time of silence is practiced in the form of meditation or contemplative prayer.  In order to stay present in the moment, a mantra is necessary.  I think the words "Veni Sancti Spiritus" (Taize chant, "Come Holy Spirit) as a way of focusing my mind on practicing silence instead of thinking ahead to work or laundry or running or whatever other distraction might be keeping me from a clear mind.

I am also practicing the following disciplines along with some fellow community members from House for All Sinners and Saints.

Day 1: Pray for your enemies
Day 2: Walk, carpool, bike or bus it.
Day 3: Don’t turn on the car radio
Day 4: Give $20 to a non-profit of your choosing
Day 5: Take 5 minutes of silence at noon
Day 6: Look out the window until you find something of beauty you had not noticed before
Day 7: Give 5 items of clothing to Goodwill
Day 8: No bitching day
Day 9: Do someone else’s chore
Day 10: Buy a few $5 fast food gift cards to give to homeless people you encounter
Day 11: Call an old friend
Day 12: Pray the Paper (pray for people and situations in today’s news)
Day 13: Read Psalm 139
Day 14: Pay a few sincere compliments
Day 15: Bring your own mug
Day 16: Educate yourself about human trafficking
Day 17: Forgive someone
Day 18: Internet diet
Day 19: Change one light in your house to a compact florescent
Day 20: Check out morning and evening prayer at
Day 21: Ask for help
Day 22: Tell someone what you are grateful for
Day 23: Introduce yourself to a neighbor
Day 24: Read Psalm 121
Day 25: Bake a cake
Day 26: No shopping day
Day 27: Light a virtual candle
Day 28: Light an actual candle
Day 29: Write a thank you note to your favorite teacher
Day 30: Invest in canvas shopping bags
Day 31: Use Freecycle
Day 32: Donate art supplies to your local elementary school
Day 33: Read John 8:1-11
Day 34: Worship at a friend’s mosque, synogogue or church and look for the beauty
Day 35: Confess a secret
Day 36: No sugar day - where else is there sweetness in your life?
Day 37: Give $20 to a local non-profit
Day 38: Educate yourself about a saint
Day 39: Pray for peace
Day 40: Pray for your enemies (you probably have new ones by now) then decide which of these exercises you’ll keep for good

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