Lent starts tomorrow. I am over 60 and have an issue that makes fasting a bit of an issue, so meatless for Ash Wednesday, but not too hungry. I have considered what I need to do this Lent to revive my soul and prepare for the joy of Easter. I suppose that is why I have had the posts on stress lately. If there is one thing that pulls me away from being happy and free walking with the Lord, it is anxiety.
With me anxiety goes along with fear to the point of panic. It cases me to freeze and get very little accomplished. Anxiety causes me to weep and to feel overwhelmed. And yet, I know that anxiety is not from the Lord. My anxiety shows my lack of trust in God's providence and care for me.
When I get into an anxiety cycle, I find that I can't let myself laugh, have fun or engage in enjoyable activities. Without really doing this consciously, I punish myself and beat myself up. I lived a long time with shame and blame and I find it hard to shake.
So, my last conversation with a wise spiritual adviser was about Lent and what my attitude needs to be this year. Basically, she says I am supposed to go easy on myself. I am supposed to feel God's grace and mercy and do things that I enjoy instead of not having time for those things. I need to recharge.
I have decided to go to Stations of the Cross whenever I can. My new parish has Stations at 4pm on Fridays, so it will not be easy to get there, but at least once or twice will be my goal. I love Stations. It brings me to the cross and helps me to unite with Christ in my heart. I need to find out how to get into the Adoration Chapel. There are some other things at church I am also considering--a weekly talk by a local priest, working the fish fry, and maybe joining a Lenten group.
But, I need to plan some activities with friends. I need to find ways to laugh and relax. Sounds the opposite of Lent to me, but my adviser assured me that this is what I need. I suppose she is right because even typing this is causing tears to well up. I don't deserve this comes into my mind. But, that is the point, none of us deserve it, the grace and mercy in our lives. But, I need to accept it.
I want a good Lent this year. I want to prepare and feel ready for Easter joy. I want to explore the dark places in my soul and bring them to the light. I want to stand and smile and accept God's care of me and to trust that He will always be there with me. This year I pray for the grace of a good Lent.