Thursday, March 6, 2014

Who Will Win the Golden Halo?

In my faith tradition, the season of Lent began yesterday. Ah, Lent... I like Sister Margaret Camey's description of these forty days:

The Abrahamic religions -- forged in the harsh deserts of the Middle East— all call for a sacred time to reflect, pray and, yes, fast. It’s found in Ramadan for the followers of Mohammed. It happens during Yom Kippur for the followers of the Torah. And it finds its purpose during Lent for the followers of Jesus of Nazareth.
I find this perspective from Wayne Meisel interesting as well:
When you make a radical shift in your daily routine,
When you radically change your consumption,
When you make the intentional decision to be intentional,
When you decide that to enter into a spiritual practice that cannot be abbreviated or condensed...
...then you open yourself up to awareness, possibilities and a new and renewed sense of being. Lent is not about giving things up but instead is about focusing your attention on where you have been and where you desire to be
Hm. Where I've been and where I desire to be? As someone whose life has been changed dramatically with the arrival of autoimmune disease, I spend a great deal of time pining for what I've been previous to the onset of Sjogren's syndrome. This may be another reminder to me of the value of looking forward, not back. Where do I desire to be in forty days? In six months? In five years? And what can I do this Lent to help me define those goals?

With this in mind, I've given some thought as to what my Lenten observance should be this year. After dealing with Sjogren's syndrome for the past ten years or so, I've learned that setting hard and fast physical goals for my body such as "By this time next month I will be able to swim ten laps in the pool without stopping," are just not achievable for me right now. My body's response to this disease is just too unpredictable and so when these types of goals remain unmet I find myself frustrated and angry. Not good.

I think that while it's important to keep moving toward healthy eating and exercising habits, it may be more rewarding and productive for me if I work on my attitude, instead. Because attitude and frame of mind is something that I can change.  So I've decided that I'm going to try my best to follow Father James Martin's suggestions for the next forty days:

Kindness. I like it. To be authentically kind is definitely an important focus of my attention in leading me to be the person that I want to be in the future.

However, since I am who I am -- meaning that I simply must temper serious and thoughtful events with silliness -- I also have signed up to follow Lent Madness as well. What's that, you ask?
Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Tim came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his blog “Clergy Family Confidential.” 
The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move into the area of saintly kitsch.
I'm throwing my support behind St. Catherine of Siena.

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