I was not raised in a denomination which observed Lent and it is still rather an unfamiliar practice to me. However, I did make an effort this year to both give up something and to add something to my daily routine that would entail reflection and spiritual practice. I gave up my weekly coffee from our local coffee shop. Giving up a latte once a week is hardly a sacrifice, so I decided that I would donate the money that coffee would cost each week to a charity, fundraiser or other worthy cause. Although the coffee usually runs about $6.00 with a tip, I rounded up to $10.00. I made my “Coffee Contributions” each week of Lent. Sometimes my donations went to a well known established charity or organization and other times I chose a local fundraiser or Go Fund Me drive.
The practice I added during the Lenten season was journaling. I have tried in the past to journal regularly and have always stopped; it seemed as if I was writing the same things over and over again (not to mention the fact that that I had a deep seated fear of someone finding my journals if something were to happen to me and reading my innermost thoughts!!) Yet, I tried again, making an effort to be introspective in addition to simply recording a diary like daily recap of my thoughts, prayers, and plans. I kept up with the practice faithfully, only missing a night or two here and there.
One of the primary purposes of my journaling was to try and identify areas of my life and and personality which were problematic and explore ways in which to improve them. It seemed as if daily I listed my transgressions of being overly critical, short tempered, and impatient. As Lent was drawing to a close, I began to despair of writing the same things repeatedly, reflecting each evening on the would have and should haves. I continued though, making note each day of how I might have handled certain situations differently.
It was soon Easter Sunday and I rose early on a quest for some pictures of the sunrise. (Coincidentally, the sunrise was the topic of the very first “essay” I wrote two years ago when I began writing again in earnest.) As I drove across the flooded fields past Cadron Creek, the sun was beginning to peek over the horizon but I could not find a good place to pull over for a picture. I continued on to a parking area at Beaverfork Lake and got a pretty “almost-sunrise” picture but thought that I might drive back north and get something more dramatic, only to find that the sun was fully up and the photograph I took was too bright.
Slightly disappointed, I decided that the perfect sunrise picture was not going to happen and I would just have to try again another day. In doing so, I realized that the is the beauty of resurrection, forgiveness, and grace. There is the opportunity each day to “try again” with my words and actions when I fall short of the expectations I have set for myself. Perfection isn’t attainable but acknowledging mistakes and correcting course is a step in the right direction. And even when I fall short in my quest of the ideal, each day brings another sunrise, and with that, the opportunity to become more of the person I would like to be.
Karri Temple Brackett
April 23, 2019