Imperfect Lent

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Confession. Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve been. I know. I know. It’s Lent. And a Year of Mercy. I know that too. But… Hey, I have my reasons why I haven’t been in a couple years. They aren’t particularly good reasons, but they’re mine.

But I decided that maybe this year for Lent, I might actually try living the penance I’ve been given more than once and by several different confessors: to lighten up on myself, even just a little bit. That’s really not so easy for me to do but there have been days when I’ve managed to pull it off. I actually let myself skip a couple of minor homework assignments in spite of the ding it might put in my grade. Yeah – me – the perfectionist. Crazy right? There was so much going on and trying to juggle it all was making life too crazy. So I actually let an assignment go. More importantly, I let an assignment go and didn’t beat up on myself for it. That’s the hard part. To simply let it go. And I can’t say I’ve completely let it go and never looked back. I still know the grades in all three of my classes averaged out to two decimal places. But I also know that when one of those classes is a bit lower than it could have been, that I’m not going to freak out over it or drive myself batty trying to fix it. It’s just going to be what it is and I will be okay with that.

Part of the juggling act the last two weeks included my younger son, Eugene, needing to get glasses. He only needs them for distance but that will mean wearing them to school. He loves being able to see stuff across the room and he hates wearing glasses. During that ride home from the eye doctor, wearing his new glasses for the first time, his non-stop running commentary was something I won’t soon forget. A snippet of that conversation went something like this:

Eugene: But if I take these off, now I can’t see.

Me: You couldn’t see anyway. That’s why you got glasses.

Eugene: Ack!! I’m cursed!! I can’t not wear them!!

Painful grammar aside, I know what he means. Sometimes, the way we see things changes and to go back to seeing them the old way wouldn’t make a lick of sense. Kind of like me finally seeing that my whole world isn’t going to go to hell in a hand-basket because I allowed myself to be a normal, imperfect human being. That can’t be unseen. And I know that because I tried. Yes. Really. And I’m adding that to the list of things I will no beat up on myself for doing and let that be what it is.

So what about Confession?  Lent isn’t over yet. I’ll get there. I just need to let go of my not-particularly-good reasons. For Christmas, I bought myself an Anglican rosary. The story behind that will be another post for another time. But for Lent, the prayer that I have prayed most often on those beads is from Julian of Norwich. All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

 

 

With Different Eyes

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After spending five quiet days on the Cape with no schedule, no agenda, no To Do List and being responsible for no one other than myself, coming back home to my two kids, my mom, my sister and my seriously neurotic old terrier was … well… a bit of an adjustment. I can’t say I dreaded coming home but I wasn’t sure I was completely ready either. I drove home on Monday, stopping only long enough to grab a quick lunch before picking up both kids from their respective schools and the dog from the kennel. Homework needed to be done, including a project for Andrew’s Confirmation which was a day late and needed to dropped off at the parish center Monday evening. With everyone having been sick, the refrigerator was empty so I ended up taking the boys out to dinner. Tuesday morning, it was back to work and I settled back into what passes for a normal life around here.

As Friday rolled around, I was glad I had decided to keep my usual day off. My day off included my usual everyday stuff. I got up at 5 to take the dog out and found she’d had a bad night, so I mopped the entire kitchen floor with bleach water, took the poor old dog out, carried her down the porch steps and then back up, fed her, went back to bed for about an hour, got up and got Andrew to school, fixed and ate my breakfast and sipped my tea while posting to several social media pages that I manage besides my own, woke Eugene up and drove him to school, all by 8:30. Then there was a double load of ‘dog laundry’ – the old quilts and towels that I use to line her crate – that needed to go to the laundromat, which was crowded for a weekday. And yet, I still managed to be done and at the beach by 10.

As I looked back over the five days I had spent on the Cape and then the five days that I had been home, I realized just how much I do, and for the most part do cheerfully, on any given day. Even my so-called ‘lazy’ days are full of the hundred little things that simply must get done. I realized how precious little credit I give myself for doing what I do. I have a very nasty habit of seeing the long list of things I don’t get done, especially on the days when the RA has flared and I simply can’t keep up my usual pace. I let my frustrations blind me.

When I was on retreat a number of years ago, I went to confession and the priest actually stopped me mid-confession, held up one finger and said, “Can I… just… add… one more to that…?”

I was so taken aback I wasn’t about to bicker with him. His addition? That I’m far too hard on myself. It was something I’ve been told repeatedly over the last decade but I never quite let it sink in. My pastor even went so far as to remind me that I am, in fact, simply human and asked me would I pretty please just ease up on myself maybe a fraction of an inch.

But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I couldn’t see what they saw. All I could see was what I didn’t do or what I hadn’t done right. That long list I keep in the back of my head of Bad Mom moments, short tempered rants, or important tasks that I blew off. I couldn’t see the exhaustion, raw physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion that led to those moments.

This week has been different. I feel almost as if I’ve been watching someone else, as if somehow I’ve stepped out of my own skin. Somehow I’m seeing myself with different eyes, eyes that are far more kind than I have ever been.

There are things that haven’t gotten done this week. There are moments that didn’t go at all well this week. I quit keeping track. And you know what happened? Not a damn thing. The world kept right on spinning and life went on.