How did your Lenten journey turn out? I think the keyword here is “journey.” It’s not about getting it right, or perfect even; rather, it’s about making forward progress on our journeys.
Overall, I’d say those 40 days (plus a few more if you count Sundays) resulted in good progress. These are some of the things I learned about myself this past Lent:
• Discipline in little things helps me take on larger challenges.
Giving up coffee — although that might sound minor to some people — was a big deal for me. Again. This is not the first Lent I have done this. I like coffee. Drinking hot tea with skim milk gives me something warm to hold on to and that’s about it. I prefer the taste of coffee over tea any day. I think sticking to my resolution on something as small as not drinking coffee (and I could have so easily cheated, especially the day I happened to fill up with gas at the new St. Joe Kwik Trip — the east one; not the “old” west side one — when it was their grand opening and they were giving away free coffee … but I stayed strong) has prepared me for bigger stuff. Not exactly sure what that might be yet, but I’m ready for the challenge.
St. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” That’s how I feel about drinking tea versus coffee.
I learned to be “content” with tea but I would have preferred coffee. Bottom line: Life went on. I survived. Actually, I feel like I grew a little closer to Jesus because of the small sacrifice I made in my morning beverage of choice.
• God is in the ordinary.
I had never heard of the Examen prayer until a few months ago. If you’re not familiar with it, the Examen is a simple five-step prayer designed to help us to be constantly attuned to God’s presence in our ordinary, day-to-day lives. Briefly, it consists of these five steps and what they mean:
1. Ask God for light.
I want to look at my day with God’s eyes, not merely my own.
2. Give thanks.
The day I have just lived is a gift from God. Be grateful for it.
3. Review the day.
I carefully look back on the day just completed, being guided by the Holy Spirit.
4. Face your shortcomings.
I face up to what is wrong — in my life and in me.
5. Look toward the day to come.
I ask where I need God in the day to come.
I like to practice the Examen on my morning run. It lets me review the previous day as well as ask God for his guidance in the day ahead. Even better than that is when I practice the Examen in real time, meaning seeing God’s presence in the here and now, the little things, the ordinariness of life.
Journey on. And, don’t forget, if you want a home-cooked chicken dinner with all the trimmings, April 15, in Meire Grove, serving from 3:30-7:30 p.m. See you there!
Rita Meyer is married and the mother of four children. She and her family are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Meire Grove. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.