Monday, April 9, 2012

a spirit of openness.

one of the most beautiful sunsets i have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
peak's island, maine 3/31/12.

Lent was... interesting this year. While life-giving, more than anything else, it was about stretching myself. Traditionally, Lent is about change, about repentance, and about growing closer to God. Oftentimes, we choose to focus on giving things up (soda, sweets, or in my case this year, Facebook), or sometimes we choose to do something extra. However, some of the best advice I received going into Lent this year was actually from one of the Jesuits at SLU, via my former roommate, Kate: "We talk about giving something up, but maybe we should consider letting go of something instead."

One of the key ideas of Ignatian spirituality is concept of detachment or indifference. Neither of those terms have ever sat particularly well with me (I spend too much time being emotional and overly attached), so the terminology I prefer is being open: open to God, open to other people, and open to opportunities.

Of course, being open is easier said than done because being open does not mean being passive. Being open oftentimes means taking risks. While I'm getting better at taking risks, it's still not easy, especially when it comes to other people. It's never easy to put yourself on the line for another person. However, one of the most important things I've learned recently is that when I am able to let go of my expectations and just let things be as they are, that's when I'm most pleasantly surprised by God. That's when things seem to fall into place, not when I'm clinging to my ideas of how they "should" be.

One of my other Lenten promises was to go to Reconciliation; while I find this sacrament life-giving and meaningful, I still don't go very often. However, I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago, and I had a really helpful conversation with the priest afterwards. His main message: keep it simple. He also encouraged me to, "Celebrate some unexpected goodness that happened this Lent." Such simple things, but how frequently do I actually do them? So often, at least recently, I have found myself having a tendency to get carried away and so far ahead of myself that I lose sight of what's right in front of me.

On that note, something I wrote in my journal a few weeks ago has become particularly meaningful recently: "Don't let your heart get too far ahead of your feet." While I am still forever optimistic about the future and the possibilities it holds, I'm also still trying to be right here, right now.

And now it's the Easter season--the wait is over, it's time to rejoice and celebrate because new life is here! But what do I have to celebrate? In the most immediate future, I will be at home in Missouri in a week, which is certainly something to rejoice about. On the surface, it will be more of a celebration of my old life than something new. However, maybe it's a celebration that even though I've spent these past eight months far away from so much of what I hold dear perhaps there's still a future there for me.

Hmm, that's a lot of thoughts that I know are a bit scattered. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm learning to be open, grateful, and present to the current moment. And I think God will continue to keep surprising me (and laughing at me, too). Lent was certainly a surprise. Let's see how Easter turns out.

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