Sunrise from our kitchen.
Well, kind of. Guion told me last night that Lent doesn’t officially start until after the Ash Wednesday service, but I’m going to get started early.
Growing up as a non-liturgical non-denom., I never knew anything about the Lenten season, which now strikes me as rather sad and depraved. I’ve loved learning about the traditions and the liturgical calendar from my new family of faith, the Episcopal church. Guion is a born and bred Episcopalian and so I’ve learned a lot from him. I started observing Lent a year before we started dating and have continued since then.
This year, these are my Lenten disciplines:
- No consumption of synthetic sugar (*with a few exceptions. I’m still eating stuff like bread and fruit, but no more cereal, yogurt, dessert, etc. Honey and agave nectar will also be allowed, but I’m going to try to go as long as I can without using them. I feel like I might go into powerful withdrawal.)
- Prayer and Bible study each morning. I’ve been slacking lately and I can feel the difference in my mornings when I skip out.
- Memorize one poem and one psalm with Guion.
As you know, I like challenges, but that’s not the sole reason for me for observing Lent. I think there is something to be said for the discipline of the body that informs the discipline of the soul. (Another reason I like the Episcopal service: the constant movement–kneeling, standing, sitting, kissing, consuming–tracks with the movement of the heart toward God and toward the sacrament of the Eucharist.) All that said, I am looking forward to this season of physical and spiritual taming. Although it bums me out that Lent always falls over my birthday… sugar-free ice cream is probably really gross.
What about you? Have you ever observed Lent before? Are you going to observe it this year?
In honor of my sister Grace, I am imposing a set of weekly challenges on myself. For 12 weeks, I will attempt a different “challenge” each week–to do one thing every day for seven days, ranging from serious to silly. At the end of each week, I’ll let you know how it goes.
Grace gives us a partners' yoga training session on the porch last spring.
“Ugh. Yoga.” This is generally my internal reaction when my mom and sisters want to go to yoga class. I am the only woman in my family who can’t touch her toes or jump right into a split. I haven’t the slightest amount of flexibility. Not to mention the fact that I am uncommonly bony and weak, so I look enormously stupid when I do yoga. I’m always the girl in class that the instructor will come up to, interrupting her instruction, and bend down and whisper, “No, dear, you need to be doing it like THIS,” and then she presses my body into some painful, unnatural shape. I hate going to yoga class.
So, there you have it. I’m maybe one of the only women in America today who doesn’t gush about yoga. Not that I don’t think it has immense benefits–I have just never enjoyed it. Because I’m bad at it. And my sister is a licensed yoga instructor! She’s a beast. I love watching her practice yoga; it really is a beautiful thing. Talking with Grace about yoga has really made me see how positive and affirming it can be–I just don’t really believe that it will ever be positive or affirming for me. I’d rather run an 8K than take an hour-long yoga class.
I committed to this challenge because I’m trying to conquer my general fear of yoga. I don’t know if it worked. I’ll confess that I kind of broke this challenge and I only did yoga for four days instead of all seven. So…
WHAT I LEARNED:
- Yoga is a lot harder to do in the morning, at least for me. My body is so stiff! But I think it actually feels better in the morning. My head is clearer, my meditation is much more focused.
- I still feel bad about my body when I’m practicing yoga. I feel bony and ugly. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this.
- I like the meditative part of yoga. My mind does feel restful and clear.
- I like how conscious I am of my balance and posture after I’ve practiced yoga for a while.
- I may never get any better at yoga, but I’m not opposed to practicing it on my own, in the comfort of my home, without anyone–even Guion–watching.
Whew. Honesty is a bit exhausting. Thankfully, next week’s set of challenges is going to be a whole lot easier and sillier: a week of red lipstick! Bring it on.