A few days ago was Ash Wednesday, which signifies the beginning of Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. It's 40 days, not counting the Sundays during that time. And, it seems to coincide with those last grey days of winter, when you still snuggle in on cold, dark nights to transition into the joys of spring, budding flowers and Easter.
I think that Lent means many different things to different people - a time for sacrifice (like giving up chocolate), a time to be solemn, a time of weird rituals and eating habits. But, I think there's something to be learned from it regardless of your beliefs. To my way of thinking, it's a time each year when I try to re-focus and take time to reflect, meditate and read. I think it's good to set aside some time for this no matter your beliefs - we all lead such busy lives that it's easy to get caught up in rushing through our days and lose perspective on the values, ideas and philosophies we want to base ourselves on.
Ash Wednesday services usually involve an aspect of community - coming together to share a meal. And then, during the service, each person can receive the sign of the cross on their forehead in ashes while the pastor says: Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. I mean, does it get more powerful than that?! We're just specs of dust passing through this earth. And, the things that we think are important - our careers, what we own, how we're perceived - don't matter at all. So, what is it about our lives that does matter, that actually makes a difference? Well, the next 40 days are a good time to think about that. (Hint: I think it has something to do with LOVE. See also: Inaugural Poem.)
My church distributed a set of materials about focusing on sustainability during Lent - pretty cool. Some people have committed to eating locally for the next 40 days, others to reducing their carbon footprint.
So, I'm trying to cut back on TV and spend some time enjoying quiet evenings and afternoons. I've also become interested in checking out a number of books. (Although, I'm sure this list is way too ambitious):
- Gift from the Sea (Per Gege's recommendation)
- Travelling Mercies
- A Sand County Almanac
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Any other suggestions for meditations on faith, life and the environment? Maybe some poetry?
I've given up on Dorothy Day's autobiography. It's just too dry! Sorry Dorothy!
(The only problem is that I need to finish The Subtle Knife first! I'm completely sucked into the book right now.)