Today is Ash Wednesday which signals the beginning of the Lenten season for those of the Christian faith.
For those who choose to observe Lent (which many Christians do not, or at least not in any significant fashion) this often means giving stuff up. The purpose of giving stuff up is ostensibly to practice self-denial and in theory return to a greater reliance on God. Not sure that's always how it works out for people...and I'm including myself there.
Last year, I gave up reading the news for Lent. This included, but was not limited to, newspapers, online political news sources, political blogs etc... It was really, really hard. Few people know this about me but I'm a closet news/politics junkie. On days when I'm not working, I easily spend at least an hour or more of my morning surfing various news/political sites while alternating between growling at the computer, sighing, shaking my fists at the sky and gnashing my teeth.
Yeah, it's not great for my mental stability. Or my blood pressure.
So, while it was probably a great exercise in self-control and redirecting my energies, I'm not sure how much it did for my soul (other than the obvious fact that politics is by definition a soul-crushing enterprise so avoiding it altogether can only be good for your mind, body and spirit).
Anywhoooo... So, this year I decided to try something different. In fact, I started on Monday, two days early, because I decided I needed a test run to see if I thought I had it in me to see this through. That's how scary it is...
Well, I have survived three days so far and have now committed to my 2013 Lenten Journey in earnest. My family has every reason to be very afraid...
This Lenten season, I am committing to getting up one hour early (that's 5:30 for me) Mon-Fri and will spend half of that extra hour exercising my spirit and the other half exercising my body. Yep, that's right. 30 minutes of prayer/Bible study and 30 minutes on the treadmill. On weekends, I will allow myself to recharge a little by sleeping until 7:00am but will then follow the same routine on those days as well.
Now, I realize this should not be THAT big of a deal. I realize there are tons of people out there who already get up at 5:30 in the morning (or earlier) just to start their day on time. I'm not proud of the fact that this is such a challenge for me, but the reality is that it is a challenge. Me likey my sleep.
But more importantly, it's a challenge that I believe could yield some incredibly positive growth. Already I have seen the benefits of starting my day in this way. Okay, truthfully, the first day I was mostly just really, really tired the rest of the day. But today, on Day 3, I'm feeling myself get into this new rhythm and continue to be hopeful that it might actually spark a little mini-revolution in my mind, body and soul.
How about you? Are you doing anything for Lent?
If you want to be inspired by another Lenten challenge, check out my friend Mindee's plan. I really gave her method a lot of thought but I decided I was too chicken. I told her I was pretty sure I'd end up making a list of things I didn't really care about giving up anyway like:
1. ironing (I don't even own an iron)
2. watching Cspan (I'm not that crazy)
3. doing algebra
4. eating brussel sprouts
5. running a marathon
You get the idea... I think my commitment to a pre-dawn routine that focuses on God and exercise is about all I can tackle.
And now... just because it is so incredibly sweet and also put me in just the right place to start this season of Lent...
Move over Eugene Peterson, because Annie has decided to write her own version of the Bible!
Looking at the Table of Contents it doesn't appear to be a chronological interpretation. More thematic it seems...
When I asked her how she settled on those particular highlights she told me,
Well, you can't have a Bible without Jesus. He's kind of the most important, you know. And I love animals. So, you gotta have Noah.
Alrighty then. Good enough for me.