Spring - A New Beginning

The weatherman says it's a balmy 56 degrees outside today. The sun is shining, and I hear tell there's a nice breeze blowing outside. (I knew I should have gone out for lunch.)

Today is also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

I'm struck then by the dichotomy of these two thoughts...

On one hand, it's a beautiful day to enjoy, even relish; to stay outside as long as possible, to take a walk or roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair as you drive. (Anybody else hear the Boss as they read that line?)

I know 56 isn't all that warm, but who can deny the magic of sunshine?

On the other hand for many today is a day of sacrifice, a day of fasting and remembering the solemnity of the Lenten season in preparation for the joy of Easter.

Discussions today center around what folks are giving up for Lent, or how they might survive forty days without eating meat on Fridays, or even for dinner tonight.

The joy? The sacrifice?

Folks I pick joy!

REALLY Jimmer?!? We thought you were a good Catholic kid?!?!

Yes, really.

I don't think about what I might sacrifice for Lent. I'm not very good at it, and I don't think God wants me to promise and fail.

Oh, the many times I have failed.

I remember once as a kid my friends and I were all going to give up swearing. On the way into church on Ash Wednesday we all spewed out every string of vile curse words one might imagine. The doors closed and we all vowed that was it. We wouldn't swear again for at least the next 40 days.

Guess how long that lasted?

One year I gave up Coca Cola which at the time was a HUGE sacrifice for me. Know what?

It's just as easy to get addicted to Welsh's Grape Soda, which includes some pretty interesting side effects as most of the Moms in the crowd can probably attest.

-Eew, did I really just write that? Hee hee =)

I've had a few successes over the years, but the reality is that most of my stories of Lenten sacrifice end at about 7 days max, sometimes sooner...

Still, I am a good Catholic kid, or at least, (I hope) someone with God in the right place in his heart so I like to try to do something each year.

What I do think about for Lent is how I might change, i.e. what can I do better... and today is a day of spring board for change

With the emphasis on Spring. With the emphasis on Joy!

So then, what to do?

The last two years I've worked harder and harder on True Intent which I've talked about before.

This year though, I've got something else in mind.

*Note* This is where it gets personal today.

This may or may not surprise a few folks in the crowd, but I have a secret.

I haven't been to church in over a year. (What?! Guffaw?!?! Gasp!?!?! or "I knew that.")

It's true. For a number of reasons I'm not going to get into today I haven't been. Some of the reasons are good. Some of the reasons are not so good. Some of the reasons are, well they're just bad.

Now before you get concerned that I'm turning the blog into my bully pulpit, let me reassure you - that is not my usual style. I'm just here to share. I don't often preach. (Did you think I would say I never preach?)

So, I'm sharing that I'll be making every effort to get myself back to the Lord's house this year.

None of my reasons were about Him anyway. He knows that because I still talk to Him all the time.

So today, as I look around, feel the sunshine on my face and the wind in my hair, I'll have a good feeling inside, and I'll enjoy the day and all it brings, all that is to come.

I hope you enjoy it too.

I think He knew just what He was doing when He created today.

What do you think?


Seth Simonds said...

Jim, it sounds like you've begun an amazing leg of your journey. Thanks for sharing this!

If you'd like to chat with somebody else with a lot of great thoughts on making an appearance in church, hit up @mikebrown. He's a wealth of such things.

Really glad to see your writing gain bravery and heart. Really, really good stuff, Jim!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jimmy - Go. Not that I am your judge, or jury, or whatever, but I think I got the reason for going to church from NPR. There was an atheist, who explored praying, and found that the huge benefit to praying for somebody else, and eventually, going to any service regularly, was that we are such selfish beings, that to spend one hour (or in the case of Fr. Robert, bless his babbling soul, 90 minutes) in church thinking, worshiping, praising someone else (and others), truly did make us better people. Even the atheists.

So, I have questions, and limits, and anger at times, but if I give that hour away, I hope that I can be a better person.

OK, that's my soap-boxing. I hope that you'll forgive me for the babble...I get it naturally...

Anonymous said...

We all find our way "home"...sometimes it takes longer for us to see thelight. You are in my thoughts and prayers during your journey!
Love, from a friend who really cares and loves you

Julie said...

Here's one of the best things I ever got from the Catholic part of my Catholic education: Instead of giving up something for Lent, try doing something for Lent. I don't remember who said it. I really wish I did. But it has stayed with me for all these years.

So instead of giving up ice cream or chocolate or whatever, I try to do something positive. One year I tried reading a little of the bible every day. One year I tried doing random acts of kindness kinds of things. One year it was just to try and see the positive side of things. I can't even think of any others.

But, as you pointed out, doing something positive (like going to church) can also be a sacrifice. It might be a sacrifice of time. It might be a sacrifice of self--coaching or mentoring. But I think the important idea behind Lent is that you are giving a gift to God, just as God gave for us.

So give a little time to see if you can connect to God in a different way. Going to church is kind of like having a weekly date with God. Just like when you go on a "date" with Annette. Yeah, you talk to her and tweet her all the time, but dates are when it's all about the two of you. And church is when it all about you and God.

Now if I can just find a church where I can practice what I just said... I miss being a part of a church. But I can't seem to find one that feels right. Maybe this year I will try to find a church as a part of what I will do for Lent.

Jim Brochowski said...

Seth - I will look up @mikebrown. Thank you. I often wonder if personal posts like this one are "too much." It's assuring to see the terms heart & brave. It means a lot and is very appreciated.

Anonymous1 I plan on going. Didn't make it for Ash Wednesday, but we have 5:00 Saturday circled. I do think it will help me be a better person.

Anonymous2 I'm not sure how to address your home & light comments. My not attending /attending church has nothing to do with going or not going home or seeing or not seeing the light. Beyond that, as I said I don't care to elaborate. There really is no point to that. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers as well as your support, but it is important to me that this isn't mistaken for some great awakening or being born again. I feel like I am in a good place with God now, I am choosing to further that relationship by returning to His house.

Jul - We do so often think alike. I really like the date analogy. Thank you for that. I hope you find your church, and I wish you well in your search.