Lent (which began February 18—this photograph of one of our oaks was taken in the fall; now it is leafless and loaded with snow!) is for many people a time of self-reflection, abstinence of some kind, and change. The theme of this period is letting go. It seems pretty easy to me to give up chocolate for six weeks compared to letting go of false thoughts and beliefs, harmful behaviors, delusions, fears, and old stories about myself or others.
On the first day of Lent, Dr. Maxine Kaye posed these questions to readers of her Daily Meditations: What might you be ready to release? Which false ideas are you prepared to let go, and how soon would you care to begin? There’s a challenge for you! But why, I ask myself, should I take on this challenge? What’s the benefit of this difficult process of purification? I don’t like change! Or it’s probably more accurate to say that my ego—what some call the “false self”—doesn’t want to change. It’s hard. It hurts sometimes. It’s like chipping away calcium deposits from my inner pipes. Thankfully I know from experience that the more I clear out these old, hard burdens the greater the flow of life and love into and out of me.
Okay. So what’s up for me this Lent? (This is the short list, and it’s a work in progress!) To the best of my ability I let go of:
• Being critical, judgmental, and unkind…and let flow lovingkindness to all, including myself.
• Trying to be, or thinking I am, “perfect.” (That’s another topic for this blog!)
• Negative thinking like; “I don’t have anything important or new to say, and besides that, since I’m a wrinkled, white-haired Old Person (and a woman at that!) no one will listen to me anyway.” And how about stopping what I often hear myself saying, “I can’t,” or any number of limiting thoughts about my God-given, God-driven talents, gifts, capabilities, and personhood. I can do this!
• Complaining! I would like to fast permanently from complaining! I complain about things not being the way I want them to be. I pray every single day to accept everything just as it is, to say “Yes” to everything. I may have to pray for that acceptance everyday until I die! As Byron Katie says, “When you argue with Reality, you lose, but only 100% of the time.” If you’re unfamiliar with her powerful practice called The Work, check out this brief description of "How The Work Works".
Lent will end April 2nd, but our journey to inner freedom will go on. I leave you with this wonderful little poem by Lucille Clifton, and send you love, courage, and blessings on your continued journey.
the lesson of the falling leaves
the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves”
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