When writing the heading to this post, I couldn’t help but think of those Nestea plunge commercials of my childhood. So, before I go deeper, for those of you who remember, here’s a little blast from the past.
On to the more serious stuff now.
In a week, Lent will begin, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on how I might meld Lent into this blog, which focuses largely on parenting. When I first contemplated blogging and what might be the best lean for a blog I would author, three subjects arose that seemed fitting: parenting, faith and writing. In an ideal world, I’d keep three blogs — one on each of those subjects. In the absence of an ideal world, I had to choose one, and I don’t regret my decision. However, the fact that I focus mainly on the parenting journey here doesn’t mean those other aspects don’t enter in. They, too, are an inseparable part of my every day. As such, they have found their way into my writing, even if subtly. The last thing I ‘d want to do is deny them and the part they play in my life as a mother.
That said, with Lent nearly upon us, I am feeling called to zero in on my thoughts and experiences relating to my faith in these 40 days of “desert.” As before, the other two elements will still be there as well, but the focus, temporarily, will be on the Lenten journey. I am excited for this new change and believe it has the potential to breathe new life into my posts. I hope you will stay near as I delve into this “new” area for a while.
No two Lents are alike. Some years, I have experienced dry, lifeless Lents that seem to lack the meaning I so desire. Other years, my personal suffering has been so great during this time that giving up something as trivial as chocolate has seemed quite unnecessary. That’s one of the beautiful things about Lent, though. You never know exactly what you’re going to get. But you can be assured that something will happen during it, even if that something appears to be nothing at all. Give it time and the meaning will be obvious, even if you don’t see it until a few years later.
Many things have come together this year for me to feel very hopeful that Lent 2009 will, for me, fall into the “meaningful” category. One of the reasons that feeling is so strong is that, unlike some other years, I am ready and eager for Lent. This year, I started pondering Lent weeks ago. I am ready for a transformation and plan to do my part to help bring it about. And I feel privileged to have the chance to bring you along as I discover what that might entail.
Before we begin moving in that direction, though, it might be important to consider why we have Lent in the first place. Some question it as I once did. Some feel Catholics in particular focus too much on the suffering Christ and not enough on the glorified, ascended Christ. But as those of us who have experienced a truly gratifying Lent know, without paying attention to the suffering aspects in our life, without taking the Lenten plunge as deeply as we can, we will never experience Easter in all its intended glory. I’ve written here a lot about the seasons, and have commented on how spring without a harsh winter beforehand lacks vibrancy. If we can get into that mindset, to understand a deep freeze is a necessary part of a glorious thaw, our whole Lenten experience should take on new meaning.
Here’s another way to think about it. So often these days, we hear the word “intentional.” Living intentionally is a very popular concept, but it is certainly not new. To me, the Lenten journey is one very definite way we enter into intentional living. The sacrifices we make during this time, as well as the additional giving we do, all speak to this. Instead of heading to the steakhouse on Friday night, we stay at home and eat a simple tuna casserole. This might seem meaningless to some, but it’s the intention behind the sacrifice that counts. It’s that pause to consider our blessings, and what we might do without, and how we might unite ourselves with the suffering of others, that directs our Lenten experience. These things that seem little and meaningless can take on great meaning when we do them for the right reasons; when we are intentional about them.
A fellow blogging mother-writer, Karen, has written two posts recently on The Meaningful Lent. I highly recommend reading these if you’re looking for a way to enrich your Lenten experience, for yourself and your entire family. To read more about what to give up for Lent and why give up anything at all, go here and here. As a sidenote, Karen is a former atheist.
Finally, I wanted to call your attention to a couple other changes this blog will undergo, some of which already have begun to take effect:
1) Instead of posting daily, I am going to be posting three days a week, typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My blogging time is a great joy for me, but in keeping with my desire to continually readjust my life for balance, I am going to try this, starting now and throughout Lent, and perhaps beyond if it feels right. This might mean longer posts on my blogging days, because I can’t completely turn off the flow of thoughts that come, nor my desire to share them. But I am going to try to reorder my days a bit to make more time for, well, things like keeping my house somewhat clean (not my forte and something I must force). I also want to model reasonable computer use to my children. That said, I am going to allow myself a pass if, on a certain day that doesn’t fall on M, W or F, I happen to have something really inspirational to share. But in keeping with my new goal, I will either keep it light or not post at all the next day. I also will try to stay away from weekends, in general, especially Sunday.
2) I’ve seen posts of other bloggers that discuss comments and the need, at times, to turn off the comment function in order to focus more on the giving and less on the receiving aspects of blogging. During Lent, I intend to do that; however, please don’t see this as me avoiding you or not wanting to hear from you. If you have a thought that you want to share or discuss, I would welcome an email (I will make sure it is easy to access during this time of no comments). I just want to try this temporarily and see what fruits it might bring to be less focused on any return.
3) You might already have noticed this small change, but I’ve begun keeping each word of my post headings lowercase. This is simply to simplify and keep this blog and my mirror blogs more uniform. It’s something my blogging pal Emilie employed and seems an effective way to get on quickly with the business of writing the post. Knowing what a thinker Emilie was, I am sure this was an intentional move on her part.
Speaking of getting on with the business of…it’s nearly time to pick up the school kids, so off I go on my daily afternoon van run.
Wishing all of you peace in these pre-Lent days, and again, looking forward to sharing the Lenten journey with you…