Ash Wednesday


That’s it. I’m forcing myself to slow down. At least a little bit.

You already know I didn’t get that clean break at the beginning of the year and that it sort of impacted the whole month of January. I’m not going to rehash that. The posts are there if you want to see them.

But here we are at another significant turn in the calendar.

Ash Wednesday begins the traditional Lenten season.

I celebrated Mardi Gras by drinking most of the red wine at a friend’s party and then eating all the sugar in our house.

That’s not quite true. Well, maybe it is about the wine just a little bit.

I digress.

I have given up sugar and, as much as possible white flour, for Lent. It’s a health thing as much as a spiritual thing. And yes, I know that neither will be totally unavoidable (although my paleo-zealot friend who reads this blog will tell me otherwise).

Pope Francis has a different message.

Rather than fasting from sweets or alcohol, Pope Francis suggests that we fast from indifference toward others.

He writes,

“Indifference to our neighbor and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience…whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades…We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.” [Time Magazine]

It’s easy to get caught up in our own worlds and be self-absorbed.

I mean, this is my blog, and I write about…me…a lot. I’ve got a whole pile of troubles, some of them I put on the stack, but I’m still pretty blessed.

If you’re reading this blog and you’re not cold, or lost, or if you’re thinking about what to have for your next meal rather than whether you’ll actually have one, then you’re pretty blessed too.

During Lent is a good time to slow down and think about others.

I’m not naive enough to think that we can take care of everyone. We can’t. But we can take care of one, or a few.

So, while I’m still giving up the sugar and processed flour, maybe I also need to give up a little of the time I spend thinking about me or my own needs and spend that time thinking of others.

I’m pretty sure that will remind me that I don’t need so much.

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