For the past few weeks I'd been thinking about what to "do" for Lent this year, wanting whatever I chose to be meaningful and fruitful. As that was mulling around in my brain, I came across some readings in a couple of my prayer books on the subject of discipline. Discipline is a difficult area for me sometimes (hello not wanting to exercise, get to bed on time or use free time wisely!). I started thinking about the relationship between discipline and discipleship--how being a good disciple requires discipline. So, I started with one of my favorite nerd things to do--looking up the etymology of both words. Both words originate from the latin disciplina, meaning "to learn." Hmmm. Interesting. So, when we cultivate more discipline in our lives, we open ourselves up to learning better. I liked the sound of that. And my quandary of "what to do for Lent" was solved: cultivate more discipline and, in turn, learn more about good discipleship.
I decided to severely limit my computer time (social media only to check messages--no scroll-throughs or clicking links), to read Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic and Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter throughout Lent and to start a regular diciplined exercise regime. Sounds simple enough, right?
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, theveryfirst day of Lent, and it felt hard. I never realized how much entertainment "idle-clicking-style" computer time had been giving me. Yikes. I didn't like this realization, because I like to think of myself as someone who has a pretty good balance of screen time to "real life" living. So, only one day into my Lenten practice and I'm already learning! The other thing I realized, a kind of ugly truth to accept, is that a part of me felt resentful of my self-imposed rules. As it turns out, I don't like people telling me what I can and can't do with my time--even when that person is me! How odd to feel resentful of something I chose to do in order to learn and grow and better myself. It reminds me that saying yes to ourselves and indulging our, even harmless, whims and desires is not necessarily what's best for us.
I can't wait to see what this season of Lent will teach me. I already feel more of a sense of peace (my word for the year) as I settle into this simpler, more disciplined routine. My mind feels more focused (much less of that "monkey brain" feeling my mindless computer clicking had been causing) and more conscious awareness of the pockets of free time I have between tasks in my day. I like the still, quiet sense of being that is beginning to enter. I like the freedom (freedom defined as "becoming who you are meant to be" which I read in this book) it affords me to engage in pastimes that will feed me. I like the reminder throughout the day that God is there, waiting to teach me more about Himself, in this season of quiet reflection.
I'll leave you with this lovely quote I've been pondering, an excerpt of "Ash Wednesday" by T.S. Eliot:
Are you engaging in any special practices this Lent? How is it going so far?