Another Lenten season and yesterday I was thinking, “what should I give up?” Each year the Church sets aside these 40 days in preparation for Easter. But for me there’s more to it than just giving up something or making some sacrifice. Lent should be a time for spiritual renewal.
Spirit renewal – easy words to say; much harder to put into practice. Where to start? What to do? And why? I mean really, sometimes why bother??? So much blah, blah, blah, holy, holy, holy…
Sunday at mass it will be the same priest, the same boring or out-of-touch homily, the same listless liturgy, and sometimes I just want to “phone it in”. I’ll go through the motions but I can’t help but wonder if my time might not be better spent cleaning out a closet or organizing the cabinets in my office. I suppose I could pray while I straighten out my clutter. Isn’t cleanliness next to Godliness or something like that?
But today is Ash Wednesday and I’m here at my office in Mexico City. So Jimena and Alberto and I went to the little church on the corner and received ashes and listened to Scripture (in Spanish, of course) and I realized then what I need to “give up” this year.
I need to give up my cynicism, my unrealistic expectations of others, my pride, my stubbornness, my impatience, and so much more. If I empty myself, I might be filled with the Spirit. I suppose I’ve been waiting for everyone else to get better. I want the “holy ones” to deliver their message more clearly, more succinctly, more passionately, more inclusively, but perhaps the real problem is the receiver.
Today I’m proudly wearing my ashes and getting fewer confused stares here in Mexico than I would be in the States. I’ve even been thanked by a few people for reminding them that they still need to get to church. Maybe this is a good place to start my spiritual renewal.