Is anyone else finding it as hard to believe as I am that Lent starts NEXT WEEK! I mean, Christmas barely ended, I still have some Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joes in the cabinet. Granted, this may be in small part due to the fact that I've been hoarding, but still, that's beside the point! Well, believe it or not, Lent is walking up the front path, ready to be knocking at our doorstep soon enough. I don't know about you, but I have a few things left to do before the start of Lent. I'm sure I could come up with many, many things if I tried, but for now, here is a top ten list.
(1) Reexamine my goals
Remember my "New Years" post back from the start of Advent? The one where I laid out my spiritual goals for the new liturgical year? Well as practical as I tried to be, I'm not sure I succeeded in following these goals as much as I would like. Have I made time for prayer? Yes. Well, sort of. In other words, I haven't made as much time for prayer as I would like. Appreciating blessings is a fairly easy one, but unfortunately I can't say the same for my Bible reading. And that most important goal of all? Making God the priority. Well, He is my priority. No doubt on that one. But have I been acting like it? That's where things get questionable...
(2) Get the sin out of my system
No, this isn't my excuse to sin as much as possible in the next 7 days (though yes, I am human, and yes, I will undoubtedly sin). I need to get the sin out of my system. Cast it out of my soul. In other words, I'm a bit overdue for a trip to the Confessional.
(3) Girl Scout Cookies
A former roommate once told me she thought Girl Scouts were evil. She was being more than a little facetious, but she did not appreciate that the delicious Samoas, Tagalongs and Do-si-Dos always made their appearance during Lent. Sometime in the next seven days I need to get my hands on two boxes of Thin Mints. One is on the express train to my stomach, and the other is going to enjoy a forty day vacation in the freezer until I get home from Easter Vigil on April 7th.
(4) Scheduling A Few Dates
If I want to start succeeding on these goals it is time for me to accept that I'm a busy gal and it's going to take a bit of advanced planning. For the past few years I've been taking a bit of an Ignatian approach to prayer - I've been trying to pray in my daily life, to achieve that goal of prayer at all times or contemplation in action. Unfortunately, I took what St. Ignatius knew was a difficult task, and tried to water it into something easy. Recently I heard the following quote, from the Catechism - "we cannot 'pray at all times' if we do not pray at specific times." I was using the concept of prayer in action, not in order to pray at all times of my day, but as a reason not to pray at specific times of the day. I thought it was better to simply interweave my day with prayer, instead of separating a "Time" for God, I wanted Him to be part of every moment. And this would have been great, had I been successful. So now it is back to the drawing board, time to make "appointments with God," as one smart campus minister recommended a long time ago. So, before Lent, I am creating a "prayer calendar" and scheduling a date with God for each of these 40 days.
(5) Finding A Few Buddies
Throughout college, and during my time in the Midwest directly following college, I was blessed with a great faith community. Initially, the loss of this was really difficult for me. Without my faith community it was difficulty for me to sustain my faith. Since then I realized that at times, I had come to appreciate the community more than the faith. Instead of allowing the community to bolster my faith, I had allowed the faith to become a side note, while the community was what I really appreciated. Both were important, but I had allowed them to become so co-dependent that when one part (community) changed, I risked losing the other part (faith). Now I am starting to rebuild my faith and what it means to have a faith community. I am looking for a few good friends to support the journey, to hold me accountable to all these dates I'm scheduling with God. Maybe we can even go on a double date together, I'm sure Jesus won't mind the extra company :)