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

Posts tagged ‘Lent’

Thursday's Three Theological Thoughts

  • I asked Jenny if it was possible to flunk Lent and she gave me the answer I expected. Every day is a new opportunity to start over and minor failures don’t add up to a major one. That’s so Benedictine but also true. So maybe I’ll even write my thoughts on Ash Wednesday today.  Speaking of failures, the one thing I tried to fail at, I failed at failing. I was mad at my father for pushing me so hard for grades in college and then found out that he flunked a class in college himself. So I decided to quit attending a class I hated with. I got an incomplete. Now, in theory, incompletes convert to Fs after a few years. But mine is still there, thirty plus years later, as an incomplete. So, I am an incomplete failure. Should give me some hope for getting through Lent.
  • Why am I, a Unitarian, so intent on Lenten discipline this year? Perhaps because I need discipline in other areas of my life? Something to explore, anyway.
  • I find myself being judgmental more than I want, and I’d like to work on that, too. That whole “let God/dess judge.” But if judging is wrong, why did God/dess make it so dang fun?

So Far So Good

Well, I may have hit on something. By starting Lent a week early, I may be building up karma credits. So far, I’m doing what I said I would do. And, this way, I figure I have 7 days I can slip up. . . .uh, maybe not.

The best Lenten discipline I ever did, one I actually then continued for another three years, was to wear a cross, visibly, every day in all situations. Those who know me theologically know that my theology is somewhere left of Jesus and I should never be confused with a conservative Christian. But when you wear a cross for all the world to see, you open yourself to all sorts of conversations. During that Lent, and the years following, I did a lot of evangelism (which does not come naturally to me), a lot of explanation (huh? what kind of Christian am I, anyway?) and a lot of listening. It enriched my life and informed my faith in ways I can’t even begin to enumerate.

I have many crosses and some are quite dramatic. Like the ones made out of horseshoe nails, or with inlays of black stone, or just simple Celtic crosses. And I wore them all. Everybody wanted to comment and engage me in conversation and some people were terrified that I was going to do some serious Bible thumping. Now, I actually know my Bible pretty well (although not as well as Jenny does) but I don’t believe in Scripture as a weapon of evangelism. I’m much more an inviting Christian than one who chases you down the street, threatening you with hell. Since I don’t much believe in hell in any traditional way, it would be sort of pointless anyway.  Sure, I can use Scripture to defend my point, and you never, ever want to play Bible Trivia with me if Jenny and I are on the same team, but I’m much more interested in the ways the world’s scriptures elucidate the great messages of love and community. So, folks who saw my cross and decided I shared their religious views often found themselves debating points of Islam, Judaism, Native American tradition, or even Wicca. I’m an equal opportunity believer.

Yes. I identify as Christian. I am also an American which makes me no less a citizen of the larger world and the even larger universe.  Although I speak passable French (well enough to play Scrabble in) and can muddle through in Spanish if I have to, I am writing in English. Not because I believe English is inherently better than French or Spanish, but because I think in English most of the time. It is my milk tongue. And so is Christianity. I am fluent in Christianity in a way I am not in other religions although I can speak in the symbol systems of several faiths with varying degrees of ease. So I identify as a Christian, not because I believe it is the only way but because it is the way that makes the most sense to me.  That doesn’t mean I believe in all its tenets. I did, after all, defect from the Trinitarians and am now happily Unitarian. There is much in the dogma that offends me and that I believe is irrelevant. But Jesus, the man and rabbi, is not irrelevant and I have decided to follow his lead.

So far, so good.

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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