Monday, February 23, 2009

The Low-Down on Give-Ups

Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday
February 24, 2009

Today's Word (read at
Sirach 2:1-11 (Stand in justice and fear; be sincere of heart and steadfast)
Psalm 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40 (Commit your life to the Lord, and he will help you)
Mark 9:30-37 ("If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all")

In Sunday's initial post I indicated that Lent isn't really about give-ups; it's about forgiveness. I'm sticking to that. In the course of forgiving others and ourselves, we often discover some behavior patterns that, when push comes to shove, we could do better without. To make room for change, we have to discard that which isn't working. Sounds like something our new President is saying, doesn't it?

If you choose to 'give up' something for Lent, it should for some crazy reason be a step on the way to accomplishing a larger goal. Even if you are only doing this for the six-week period, whatever you do should be part of something larger. It should be realistic, measurable in some way (there are some things that aren't so easy to measure in a short period of time, but don't let that serve as an obstacle), and is something you can devote some effort into doing.

I thought about what I'd like to do this year and came up with a couple of things.

1) I'm already doing what I can to eat more simply (losing 40 pounds from a starting point fourteen months ago). Indulging is already something about which I am careful. No rich foods this Mardi Gras! I will be observing the Catholic days of fast and abstinence - dinner Wednesday, for example, will be a salad with dried fruit and nuts, and bread. That's it. Fridays will be something similar. It may help break the current hurdle my weight's been hovering around lately.

2) This daily blog. Taking the time to make sense of it all in the spirit of the season. The object here is to give credit where it's due, and to put in my own words what I may need to address and put some steps in place to work on it. To do so may involve recalling my past and how what I did then affected the person I am today.

Some days will be easy to express thoughts, as they're built into the day. Others will be harder. Sometimes a song's or hymn's lyrics will give me a starting point.

3) I'm an info junkie; but sometimes I get too wrapped up in the mundane. What's the state of the world in which I wake each morning? Sometimes it's enough to make me crazy! Does it really matter? For the next six weeks, I will refrain from listening to or watching the news programs in the morning, or during the course of the day at work. I will only listen long enough and at those times when traffic and weather reports are on. I commute 20 miles to work and it's still winter, so I see that as important.

Overall, I will try to keep things as simple as I can. This isn't easy. As a church musician, my calendar gets full that last week. But I'll do my best to keep everything in proper perspective.

Already, there are a couple of things calling for my attention. Good thing is, after all these years, I have one of the best support systems in the world, and it has two basic parts. Both involve communication. One is communicating with the most supportive person in my life, my dear wife Diane. The other is communicating with God in prayer. The older I get, the more of both I see myself doing, and the better it gets.

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