When my computer doesn’t work as I want it to, I turn it off and turn it back on again. It is the same with my phone, my printer, and anything that can be turned off and turned back on again.
This season of Lent is feeling a little like that for my soul- a sort of turning things off and then turning them back on again. I don’t usually fast during Lent, I typically add a practice that I’ve abandoned or that I had wanted to try. This year, I noticed I had stopped taking my daily walk. I had, for a long time, the practice of taking a short walk alone- no music or podcasts- just me alone with my thoughts. Returning to this practice allowed me to notice how many of my thoughts were self-loathing and unkind. So, for the first time, I began fasting something for Lent- self-loathing. When an unkind thought enters my mind, I turn my thoughts to what is true and loving. The first few days had me turning to kindness many times a day. As I continue to fast self-loathing, my mind is slowly being more kind and graceful to myself. I have noticed that I have been quicker to see the judgemental thoughts and I have moved toward grace and compassion more often.
Lent for me this year is a turning things off because they aren’t working and then turning things back on in a new way so that things might work as they ought too. It is a time to refresh- to get rid of the things that are not working and to find or rediscover the things that may work better for my heart.
I have been starting my daily walks with For Courage by John O’Donohue. May it bring the encouragement it has brought me.
When the light around lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,
When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,
When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,
Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world.
Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,
Know that you are not alone,
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes,
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.
Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.
Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark
That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.
A new confidence will come alive
To urge you towards higher ground
Where your imagination
will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!
What are some things that you might need to put down or step away from? What are some practices you might want to try for the first time or rediscover again? However you refresh your soul, may you feel more alive and more like your true-self.