While it is alive
Until Death touches it
While it and I lap one Air
Dwell in one Blood
Under one Sacrament
Show me Division can split or pare—
Love is like Life—merely longer
Love is like Death, during the Grave
Love is the Fellow of the Resurrection
Scooping up the Dust and chanting "Live"!
Sitting in church this morning, the pastor said warmly, "The Lenten season is often hard ..." and I was so startled by that idea, I lost the thread of the entire sermon. Hard? The word I think I'd use in association with the past 40 days would be joyful.
Note that joyful is not the same thing as fun. There were nights when I'd have ticked off the last item on my to-do list by 9:30 p.m., sunk into the sofa ... then groaned as I realized I had made a promise to myself -- and held myself accountable to you all -- to set aside 30 minutes for pausing, reflecting and writing. Those were the nights when I started the timer with a groan.
Some nights I couldn't get my monkey brain to stop gibbering long enough to really sink into the smooth, uninterrupted current of a thought and fully reflect on it. Some nights I wondered why I wasn't more focused or structured. Shouldn't I have a gimmick for these posts? Shouldn't they be a cumulative effort leading to something productive?
I lost the thread more than once. I let my nitpicks about the practice of creating a space to pause, reflect and pay attention get in the way of actually doing it. It was an imperfect effort.
I even forgot -- forgot! -- twice, when disoriented by time shifts and lost in some really exciting, deep thinking about how to be more awesome at the day job. I slept through Good Friday and missed that day. So, I missed three days out of forty. Not having a perfect streak of days makes me cringe --
-- Except that we've already established that I am all "too willing to indulge in the deplorable practice of ego-driven perfectionism and its resultant procrastination." So I look at this whole experience as a sustained practice in fighting my worst instincts.
It was also a practice in unexpected delights. I loved reading people's comments and tweets. I like being given the opportunity to learn from other people's insights and experiences. I appreciate that without the practice of the last 40 days, I wouldn't have created the circumstances that have led to the opportunities I have.
In a way, this whole practice has almost felt like I cheated on Lent somehow. I didn't give up anything. I didn't particularly suffer. I feel clearer about how I want to spend my time and what I find rewarding. I feel clearer about what I value (as opposed to what I say I value).
I was grappling with the idea that I didn't really do Lent right because it wasn't particularly irritating or difficult, and then I read a blog entry from an old, dear friend, which read in part:
[E]very Lent, I don’t give things up; I take things on. For me, giving up Facebook or Starbucks or a glass of wine only serves to take me out of my community. It cuts me off from people who I love and share a life with. I just don’t think God wants that for me. It is also not something that I can or will carry with me after the Lenten season.
I love how Tara clearly articulates her priorities -- sharing a life and serving the people she loves -- and uses that to distill her Lenten practice.
And that is why I'd characterize the blogging practice of the last 40 days as joyful. Because it is deeply satisfying to take time and reflect and ultimately, come to some small clarity about what I value and how I want to spend my finite and unpredictable length of days.
Thank you all for the gifts of your time and attention during the last 40 days. Selah.