My wrestling match with Lent began a couple weeks before Lent. I wanted to use the same devotional booklet as the other folks in my parish, but of course it wasn’t available from Bookshare or Xavier Society in accessible format. Our director of religious education gave me the link to order it from the publisher in Kindle format. So I groused for a few days to myself about how I had to put money and time into getting something other people were handed free and with no effort on their parts.  Finally I realized if I want it, I needed to suck it up and spend a buck and some time. The “some time” turned into a couple hours trying to get Liturgical Press’s shopping cart on their website to play nice with my screen reader, but I prevailed! Then there was the struggle, aided by my twenty-something reader to get the Kindle book to download on my iPhone instead of my desktop. In case you ever want to do this, you have to use the iPhone to get it; you can’t just sync it with your desktop, I think. Another hour down the drain.

Lenten lessons so far: fasting from resentments is out of the question, but letting them go a little quicker would be nice! Asking for help can make things go more smoothly; pray for strength to ask!

So Lent begins, hopefully forty days of spiritual transformation to get ready for Easter. Sister Joan Chittister writes: “Lent is the opportunity to change what we ought to change but have not…Lent is about becoming, doing and changing whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now… Lent is a summons to live anew…Lent is the time to let life in again, to rebuild the worlds we’ve allowed to go sterile, to ‘fast and weep and mourn’ for the goods we’ve foregone. If our own lives are not to die from lack of nourishment, we must sacrifice the pride or the sloth or the listlessness that blocks us from beginning again.”

Instead of focusing on giving up something, this year I feel a strong call to focus on being kind. Prayer, fasting and works of mercy are good ways to help remove the blocks to kindness, but need to be done in a spirit of kindness, not as a forty day marathon.

So far I’ve had the chance to be kinder than I usually would have been to someone who messed up helping me and take a few minutes to reach out on Valentine’s Day to folks who need a little TLC.

Reading the daily Mass readings and the Lenten booklet helps; so do taking a few deep breaths, listening to music and feeding my soul in nature. In case you’re looking for a good Lenten booklet, I do recommend the one our parish is using, Not by Bread Alone by Mary Poust.  Hope your wrestling with Lent is productive.