Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What Lent Has Taught Me

"Therese Martin as a Carmelite Nun" @

Lent has not taught me that I'm weak or full of sin. It's taught me how to be here not way over "there."

When I was a kid, Lent was a time when I gave up candy, TV and meat on Fridays, which was cool because mom would sometimes drive to McDonalds for fillet o'fish meals! But somewhere in my 20's I would realize I'd forgotten Lent when Easter sprang out of nowhere. In my 30's I resurrected (oh, bad word choice!) ... where was I? In my 30's I practiced Lent differently. Instead of denying myself the physical and edible pleasures of life, I practiced presence.

Instead of seeing a piece of chocolate and screaming no while making the sign of the cross at it, I decided to catch myself caught up in thoughts or emotions. On the rare occasions that I did, I took that time to breathe, to hear the plane just flew over my house or what my son was saying; to smell the newly blossoming jasmine that grows by our front door or the trash that we'd forgotten to throw out the night before. Without judging the trash or the jasmine (which by the way, really needs a hair cut) or myself for not listening to my son, the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent are a good time to be here.

As a writer, I'll be abstaining from self criticism and doubt, which are the demonic sisters of self-centeredness. During Lent I won't be meeting page counts or finished manuscripts; I'll be here with the work and letting it develop and grow. When those shrewish voices start hollering in my head, I hope for the presence of mind to breathe and let the voices go quiet on their own and return to the writing.


Anna Rodriguez said...

Mary, that is beautifully said! I whole heartedly agree! I, too, try to focus on the present moment during Lent. However, as a writer, I have not given any thought to squashing my own self-doubt and self-criticism, other than wishing those crippling thoughts would go away! I think I will give it a try as well. I hope it lasts through this weekend! ;)

All the best to you this Lenten season!
~Anna Rodriguez
p.s. As a kid, we got to have fillet 'o fish meals, too, during lent! I remember thinking that tartar sauce was only available during Lent. I often gave most of the fish patty away and ate the sauce and bread! Mmmm...healthy! =O

Unknown said...

Hi Anna!

Don't forget the cheese!

I'm learning to live with the self doubt and self criticism. I'll never get rid of it but with practice I might get it shut up during work time!


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