Lent has been most meaningful for me during those times when I take something new on instead of shedding some vice. I’ve liked to think of the season as a time to take on a new discipline and to try to integrate that practice into my life. I’ve done it with writing. I’ve done it with running. I find that when you add good, you make less time for the bad… At least theoretically, anyway.
This year, I’m not just trying to adjust patterns of behavior, but also patterns of thinking. I’ve been accused lately of being overly self critical and negative in my self appraisal. I don’t always think that’s true. I know myself to be tragically flawed, but maybe I’m just too close to the situation. So this year, I’m doing two things that I hope will change both my outlook on myself and my outlook on the world. The first is a gratitude journal, just a little notebook that I’m keeping with me to take stock on those things for which I can be thankful. The second is writing a daily self affirmation. I want to speak to and of myself in more positive terms in hopes that I will begin to dispel my own inner darkness.
Ash Wednesday seems an odd time to begin affirming myself, but here’s my first stab at it:
Today, I affirm that I am dust. I am neither a finer quality of dust nor a lesser. I am made of the stuff of life just as is everyone else. I am finite and limited and that opens me up to the possibility of being served and loved by others. In kind, my life can and has been used in service of other finite and love limited people. To dust I will return. When this life is done my flesh will go the way of all flesh, no where better, no where worse. I rejoice in my common and shared humanity. It is this that makes me fit for community and worthy of love.
Gratitude journal 2/18
I’m grateful for sunshine, for a community that holds me in prayer, for technology that connects us over long distances, for friends who impose ashes in the middle of busy streets, for good food and good conversation with interesting colleagues, for a boss who brings in doughnuts, and for people who dedicate themselves to healing others’ wounds.