It’s that time of year again, Lent is knocking on our door,and the old inner conversation begins:
“What am I going to do this year?” Please remember it’s not what are you going to do, but how are you
going to be? The readings for Ash Wednesday remind us that it’s not outer appearances that
ever make a difference but inner orientation.
Our prayer series during Lent will challenge us to investigate that, and hopefully your Lenten reading
might be a stimulus too.
Self denial was the hallmark of my childhood Lenten season and my response usually was to equivocate.
Now I advise others and myself too, to simply tune up your inner life; pay attention. The hot phrase going
around is “mindfulness.” That doesn’t mean fill your mind with lots of distraction, but instead do some mind and spiritual housekeeping. Simplify your attentiveness to the basics. Be open to the music of the natural world. Have a dialogue with yourself about what’s important, really important to you. I know, that’s a struggle.
Most of us don’t want to learn anything about ourselves that’s new.
Reflection on these matters is important. As the season folds into Easter
and the bloom of spring, we can till the fertile ground of our own spirituality and discover that there’s
gardening to be done. Just as the results of tending our own home gardens increases its beauty, our inner one
will also show results. Pare down, turn over, cast out negativity, open ourselves to the world around us, greet
each day as a gift to be opened and enjoyed. Then Lent will be productive and enjoyable rather than doleful
and burdensome. But I’ll still try to avoid chocolate!
Faithfully, Fr. Paul