Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

Father began his homily today with this little story:

A young priest is assigned to a parish in New York City. One night he finds himself walking in the rough and tumble Bowery neighborhood. Suddenly, he feels a knife against his ribs and a gruff voicing saying, "Alright, buddy. Give me all your money".

The priest reaches for his wallet and as the thief pushes him around to get at it, he sees the priest's collar. "Oh!" he exclaims, handing back the wallet, "I had no idea. Please forgive me, Father!"

"It's alright, my son," says the priest. "Here, have a cigarette".

"Oh no, Father," replies the thief. "I never smoke during Lent".

That pretty much sums it up for me. These next 6 weeks aren't supposed to be about giving stuff up just for the sake of giving stuff up. It is an invitation to change my heart, change my life.

In that spirit, this year I am going to attempt to become more mindful. This means a lot of things. I want to be more mindful of what I put into my body (as opposed to just shoving something filling but not necessarily wholesome into my face at 11am because I neglected to eat a proper breakfast). Mindful about moving (especially when I have a little Dog who just loves his walkies). Mindful of how I treat others (especially the ones under the same roof). Mindful of how I use my time (like turning off the television after watching the show I purposefully intended to watch rather than spending the next 2 hours mindlessly surfing).

This is going to be a Lent about lots and lots of little ways I could be a better person/wife/mom/friend, and not so much some big, grand sacrifice. It's going to be about paying attention, listening, looking people in the eye. It's going to be about making choices for my time that speak to the things I care about (like "Gilmore girls") but not the things I don't (the E! True Hollywood Story: Bimbette McBimbetterson). I'm going to get up from my computer when my husband comes home and give him a proper Donna Reed greeting...because he deserves it. I'm going to assume the best about The Child rather than just assuming that whatever it is she's doing is wrong and somehow designed to drive me insane.

And like that.

I think this exercise in mindfulness can only be a good thing for my growth as a human being. But there's another motivation as well.

Let's say, just for grins, that I get this job (that I'm trying not to think about because I really want it and besides, it's hard not to think about it when I am currently working on "the test"). Working would be a good thing, on many levels. But it would also mean that 8 hours of my day are no longer available for use as I wish. I want to continue blogging and working on other writing projects. I'll still have to manage the home front (although obviously everyone else is going to have to step up. The Child already gets that, telling me last night that she needs to start cooking more dinners). It is going to require being able to be pretty bloody purposeful about time.

I am well aware that people do this sort of thing all the time. I'm not breaking new ground. But it will be new for me, new for us. So I think about it. Sometimes, I worry about it, too. (Not consciously, but my dreams have certainly had an angsty-abandoning people vibe going on). And of course I'm not abandoning anyone or anything in pursuing this. But it will be a big change and big changes always bring adjustments, even if they are good. Just saying, it would be wise to have "mindfulness" down before anything happens rather than try and develop that characteristic in the midst of everything else changing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to go pay attention.

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Blogger Citymouse opined...

I'm too broke to pay attention (you knew that was on its way, right?) Thanks for answering my question.

February 21, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric opined...

Good for you. Back when I was a practicing Catholic, I never understood why we would give up in-between-meal snacks, knowing all the while that Easter would come eventually and with it an all-chocolate-all-the-time sugar orgy. It made no sense. Your way sounds better.

February 21, 2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

I guess I missed the post about the job...sorry...but here's a good thing to wrap your mind around....get a housekeeper if you don't already have one....if you have one have her a few more times a month. For oh so many years I cooked, cleaned, raised kids and worked sometimes 10 hours a day, rare holidays off and no husband (but that's a really good thing or I would have been in prison). You are already all of those things you are trying to embrace, you just need to make them bigger that's all. Pamper yourself as well as your spouse. Damn this is really too intense....go get a latte and a piece of really high caloric pie. Or throw back a big glass of vodka. Those things will make you feel really good...and bring out your faith too!!!

February 21, 2007 12:51 PM  
Blogger Kendall opined...

Good for you, Lent is always a special time of the year, while I often don't fully meet my commitments at least I am more mindful of my commitments during that time of year.

February 21, 2007 4:02 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

You know..I get frustrated with "Christians" because so many of them profess to love Jesus,and yet clearly have no understanding of what it was He was trying to say.It's not about "Glory Be's",and "Hallelujah's",..It's about feeding one another,..spiritually,..and having our own spirits sustained by natural consequence..

"Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to go pay attention"....Here is wisdom..

February 21, 2007 6:15 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

You're welcome, Mouse. Happy Lent!

I'm fortunate, Red. I had really good catechisis. Plus, I chose it as an adult. Sometimes that makes a difference.

Rosemary: ACK! A housekeeper? Hell no. I'm going back to work to make money for fun stuff like freedom from debt and my kid's education and travel and a new couch. I'm not going to turn around and spend all my income on the things we can do ourselves. Nope. These lazy good-for-nothings around here who've had Mama doing everything for 12 years are going to start doing their own laundry. It'll be awesome.
But I like the latte and pie idea.

Kendall, Well, honey, if we were all perfect it wouldn't be much fun, now would it? It's all about the sincere attempt, as far as I understand it.

Sling. Shucks. Oh. Wait. You've been helping yourself to the good Scotch again, haven't you?

February 21, 2007 6:34 PM  
Blogger Sling opined... followed me home..

February 21, 2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

I wish all religious folks were like you.

February 21, 2007 7:20 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Sling, how many times have I told you? Don't put peat moss in your pocket.

Iwanski, wow. I don't even have a smart-assed reply to that.

February 21, 2007 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Great post. You just did a pretty amazing job of adjusting my attitude (and without a margarita!).

Not to get all mushy on you but your faith really is inspiring.


February 22, 2007 1:40 AM  
Blogger Grish opined...

Hi Hi!

February 22, 2007 2:39 AM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

No smart-assed reply?

Then what the hell am I doing here?

February 22, 2007 4:00 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Jlow, I think this is the first time I've been compared to a marguerita.

Grish: Hi! Hi!

Iwanski: Um, I don't know. Wanna beer while we figure it out?

February 22, 2007 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Miss Healthypants :) opined...

Lorraine, I've been reading this book called "8 Minute Meditation"--I have found it EXCELLENT in helping me maintain mindfulness--at least for 8 minutes a day! *smiles* Well, it is starting to rub off on the rest of my life, too. To me, mindfulness = peacefulness. So good for you for pursuing a life of more mindfulness! :)

-MHP :)

February 22, 2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger Hapamama opined...

Wow - all I can say is wow. You and I are on the same wavelength. Eerie. Must be a BSG thing! (I'm sure it has nothing to do with God)

February 22, 2007 7:56 PM  
Blogger Dariush Alavi opined...

Wishing you all the best for your Lenten intentions, regardless of their scale or scope.

You might find the short 'Live Simply' section of the newsletter below of interest:

St. Boniface Southampton Newsletter

February 23, 2007 2:18 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

And good on you, too, MHP!

Hapamama: I have a plan. I think God might, too. But I definitely have a plan.

D: Thank you, to you as well. And thanks for the link!

February 23, 2007 11:53 AM  

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