Catholics aren't the only ones who celebrate Easter or Lent, but those of us who are not Catholic do not have the firm traditions and more-often-recognized symbols of that tradition. Not to say that I don't sometimes wish for them but I simply don't have them. But Lent is a time to prepare for Easter; Easter is the confirmation of all our hopes. So, how are we supposed to make ourselves ready for all our wildest dreams to come true? I want to be calm, collected, clean, and rested. Knowing I would be able to discipline myself to a few new habits and surely be able to refrain from common indulgences, I made a list.
- Make a point to say AM and PM prayers; I usually use the format of a medieval mass (kyrie, gloria, credo, sanctus, agnus dei), sometimes adding a hymn and specific petitions. The whole prayer takes maybe 10 minutes.
- Meditate for 15 minutes every day. It may seem odd to put a time limit, but I am a daydreamer (and I say that with a tone of chagrin). I meditate on psalms, or on a theme that strikes me during my time in prayer. So far I am having enough trouble concentrating that I'm not sure I've had any decently positive effects.
- Journal one page a day. Sometimes I avoid reflection in favor of action because my thoughts seem to lurk maliciously. But honestly... what am I afraid of when Christ is before me, behind me, beside me, above me? And yes, blogging counts.
- Spend 15 minutes a day writing to friends and family. This takes care of the time I have spent avoiding Facebook and not answering emails. Or not writing them in the first place. This habit of avoidance has become unhelpful.
- Be in the garden for 15 minutes per day. This means I must get fresh air and not simply breathe dust and cleaning fumes and only go outside to get firewood and fetch the post. It is also a crucial time for my garden, when everything is sprouting so beautifully and coming back to life. Time to put on more of the compost that has been so patiently waiting, and time to start preparing to plan the annuals (chamomile and a few flowers).
- Make no treats or sweet foods except to celebrate specific occasions. My sister's birthday always falls during Lent and there are always house guests who are in need of some snacks during the day, so this isn't quite an ultimatum, but it is worth a try.
- Use less seasoning in the food I cook; do not add salt or spices; use very little meat. So far we've been almost completely vegetarian and nobody has complained. I doubt if the novelty will last the full period but I'm not the only cook in the house, either.
- No make-up, no jewelry. Not really too much of a problem with the first, but I do like my earrings and necklaces and rings. Most of my affection is a fondness for the memories attached to a certain occasion, but I need to do without it all for a little while. I get too attached to them.
- Don't buy things I don't really need. This has been hard. But not too hard. And it is teaching me to plan my purchases, and enjoy reevaluating my needs.
- Knit and spin only for other people. In my New Year's Resolutions I made one not to buy any new fiber or yarn (except in the annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival), so with this I am having to use stash to finish projects for others and for a variety of charities. This is proving a bit of a challenge, because I love knitting for myself even if it is just one project out of ten that I'm currently working on. I put all my possible "me" projects in a cupboard... and I still have a hospital shawl, a baby bib & burp cloth set, a sweater for my sister, a cowl for my friend, and a shawl for another friend; all cast on, all in progress. It isn't like I lack projects or variety.
I hope that by Easter, I will be more aware of myself and more connected to the good aspects of my environment. I hope I will be less distracted by my material surroundings and a better caretaker of what I have. And I hope to have something concrete (or in this case, knitted) to offer to others out of my joyful labor. I know my fasting and prayer doesn't seem severe, but I think it is enough to get to where I want to go for now. One day I may give up coffee, singing, my smartphone, and knitting/spinning... but not yet.