I did not grow up in a church-going family. The Liturgical Calendar meant nothing to me until I began teaching at Catholic schools in my very early twenties. Since then, Ash Wednesday has special significance. I attended Mass with my students today. I received ashes on my forehead and made some private and public promises about what I would “give up.”
Maybe it’s because I only participated as an adult, but now I think Lent is awesome.
Today, an early morning message from a friend evoked the word “focus.” She is making choices about her time in order to maintain focus on important situations that require her attention.
My experience with people as powerful as my friend is that when they focus their energy with intention, things happen pretty fast in the right direction.
During Mass today I started thinking about how diffuse focus can get when the everyday clutter of life takes over. This is why Lent is awesome. Lent is a long break from the mundane. Lent is streamlining life to the essential. It’s being quiet, paring down, clarifying focus, gathering core strength, in whatever way that means to you.
My essentials are reading, writing, building loving, co-creative relationships, and being of service to my brothers and sisters in Christ (which, btw, is everybody). Nothing else matters as much. Things like worry, cursing, and bullshit need to go.
The song Straight Lines by Suzanne Vega has been going through my head all day. “She’s growing straight lines/where once were flowers/she is streamlined, she is taking the shade down from the light.” It’s a good song for today.