As a Unitarian Universalist, I don’t have a prescribed Lenten practice to follow, but there is a thread of cultural-Catholicism in my husband’s family and so the idea of “giving something up for Lent” entered my life just about when he did.
In past years I’ve given up sugar, or alcohol, but this year that just doesn’t appeal to me. We started a new budget plan this year, and I’ve been struggling with one of the worst bouts of depression I’ve had in years, and more self-restraint or deprivation seems counter-productive.
I’ve been inspired by some of Pope Francis’s messages about Lenten fasting, that what we should fast from might be spiritual attitudes as much as they could be physical things. So this year I am “giving up” easy anger towards others. I’m not giving up all anger, and I’m not going to stop caring about the big injustices in the world, but I am giving up the sort of take-it-out-on-your-nearest-and-dearest “I’m Cranky!” kind of anger.
One cannot simply wave a magic wand and say “I won’t ever be cranky again”, though. So the method I’m using to try and reduce or eliminate my cranky anger levels is to refocus on my own Soul Care and prayer practice.
I’ll get up each morning and spend the first part of my day with my journal and in prayer. Today I set the mood for myself with a hot cup of coffee, the fire and a candle, some classical music, and a cozy afghan, and then I wrote and prayed over all that was bothering me in my life and the world.
So far, so good. I do feel calmer and more focused today. Perhaps in 40 days the habit and re-framing of my attitude will stick!