Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Lent and Discipline
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and I have come to a fuller understanding of how the next six weeks can be a kind of retreat bringing me closer to God. Lent is a time of disciplined reflection and penance. By penance, I don't mean to imply that we in any way make up for our own sins. Let's stay with the loving child / parent analogy I have been using. When a child yells at a parent and essentially says "I don't CARE what you want", and is later repentant, the parent loves the child unconditionally, correct? But if that child is truly repentant, he or she wants to show it. He or she wants to do little things to please the parent whom she or he hurt. That is how I see penance. It's not a requirement for my relationship with the Father, but helps me draw closer.
Anyway, I haven't been very disciplined lately. My schedule has become non existent. I feel like I have no purpose any longer, so why bother. After my mother passed away, I stopped being disciplined about eating breakfast at 7:30, lunch at 11:30 and so on, and just wait until I'm hungry. I get dressed when I feel motivated to get dressed, go to bed when I finally feel exhausted enough to sleep, and get up when I'm tired of sleeping. I didn't start out so badly at first, but let's just say I've devolved... Am I depressed? Perhaps. I'm not as emotional as I once was, but I'm not as motivated as I once was either. Perhaps I've grown lazy.
Whatever the reasons, Lent provides me with the motivation to change and do better. This isn't about my purpose. I read a post not long ago about how time is a gift from God, and we don't know how much of it we are given. Robin Arnold uses the analogy of if time were money...
I realized that if time were money, I'd budget it! Upon reflection, I decided time is precious enough to do exactly that. My Lenten promise is going to be to live according to a schedule. I used to do it. In fact, when I was teaching, I was very disciplined about budgeting class time so that every subject was accorded the state mandated number of minutes per week, and sticking to it. If we had something particularly special to work on like a class play, I saw to it that somehow subject matter overlapped so that it was kind of a buy one get one free! So I CAN do this!
How rigid is this time budget going to be? No more so than when I was teaching. There is room for "specials". There just isn't going to be time for doing nothing but sitting at the computer, or watching t.v., or whatever. Just like school started at 8:00 a.m punctually and ended at 2:30 on the dot, my day is going to start at 7:00 am and end at 10:30 pm. I am going to get dressed immediately, then read from the Gospels as I mentioned in an earlier post. After I am finished reading, I will reflect and pray, and then post something about my reflections on this blog. I will then spend no more than two hours on the internet. Calling friends and family can be done between then and lunch. After lunch I can clean house and organize the room of the month. Then I can start dinner, greet my husband, have dinner, and spend time either watching television, reading, or listening to music with Bob. At ten I will plan the next day, start getting ready for bed, and will be down by 10:30, leaving the television off.
I know. It doesn't seem rigorous at all. Obviously my day will look different on days I volunteer at Church, visit relatives, etc. On those days, blogging, t.v. and/ or cleaning time will be condensed.
How can scheduling bring me closer to the Father? Hopefully I will not only be more appreciative of the gift of time, but will develop a habit of using this gift wisely, and to His purpose.