The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Lenten Discipline


The liturgical season of Lent is upon us and, although I have defected from the Anglicans and joined the Unitarians, I still find the challenge of a spiritual discipline inviting.  During Lent, it is traditional to give something up for 40 days, until Easter. Note this is forty days and not forty-six. Lent may be a season for fasting but Sundays in the Christian tradition are ALWAYS feast days so the fast can be broken to celebrate once a week. In fact, it should be broken once a week. Man, or woman, cannot wear a hairshirt every day. Sometimes it has to go to the dry cleaners.

As I said, it is traditional to give up something for Lent. As I child I gave up liver, because I wouldn’t eat it anyway. I tried to give up candy but that never worked. Now I have a more sophisticated understanding and this Lent I am going to give up lethargy. Since I have a chronic health condition that frequently leaves me with no energy and a desire to just stay in bed all day, this should be a stretch. Although I’m not so sure the exhaustion of fibromyalgia really falls under the rubric “lethargy.”

Lethargy, to me, is a sort of physical, emotional, and  spiritual laziness. It’s not doing what I could do.  There are days, literally, when I can’t tie my own shoes. But I can still put on a pair of clogs. Or at least my slippers.  There are days when I can’t unload the dishwasher but I can still make sure the dishes that migrate to other rooms in the house find their way back home. And there are days when I just plain don’t want to deal with the hard stuff of life in the spirit or mind.

So this Lent, I am going to make a real effort to do the things I can, even if I don’t feel like it. Note: This does not mean I will do the things I really can’t do. I do have a real medical condition and if I push too hard, I pay dearly. But I can do more than I sometimes do. And when I find myself being lazy, when I should take care of business, I will do the thing I am avoiding.

To that end, I have set these goals.

  • I will not procrastinate on the unpleasant. If I have to make a phone call (I hate the phone) I will make it.
  • I will journal daily, at least one line, as an aid to doing the hard emotional and spiritual work. Don’t worry, I won’t make you read it.
  • I will blog daily about my progress when I make any and about other things when I don’t.
  • I will work on my dang book every day. Even if it’s just finding the paper clips or reading some critiques from fellow writers.

So hold me accountable. Nag me if you must. (And I know some of you feel that you must.) And check back to see how it’s going.

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Comments on: "Lenten Discipline" (3)

  1. Well, I’m glad you jump-started the rest of us.
    I began pondering what to do for Lent about 2 days ago and hadn’t come up with a thing yet. I’m still “giving up” and “adding to” from my New Years’s resolutions.

    But your example gives me an idea. Maybe….just maybe I’ll get out of bed by 7:00 each morning. It would combine the giving up (sleep) and the adding to (more stuff accomplished) ritual.

    Thanks for the push to get started.

  2. Benedictines have to get permission for their lenten discipline from their superior, because the most common human tendency is to be too eager to do so much we set ourselves up to fail. There might be a negotiating back and forth if the first suggestions don’t work for the Abbot or Abbess.

    Being humble and simple means we find a little thing we do because we want God’s love to infuse our life. It needs to be hard enough to be a challenge but not so hard as to fear defeat. It does not mean being heroic or taking away things essential for life and health.

  3. “Let’s have sex, darling.”
    “We can’t. It’s Lent.”
    “Lent? That’s ridiculous! To whom and for how long?”

    No, but seriously, I admire and respect your spiritual journey. And I’m wondering if you ate liver on Sundays since it’s permitted on feast days. Will you skip blogging on Sundays and lie slothful for 24 hours?

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