Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Slouching Towards Lent

As the season of Lent approaches, my Roman Catholic upbringing comes racing up the ramp reminding me to give up something. I haven't really thought of it as a giving up since returning to the Church. I prefer to think of Lenten practices in a newer way, to provide deeper mystical insights.

Maybe, I am in fact slouching towards Lent  (apologies to poet W. B. Yeats for the inadequate comparison).

Instead of how I was raised,  I've tried to do a give and take. I give up something and take something up. The odd thing is, I've found that taking something up has been so fulfilling that it's gone past Lent. Really past Lent.

So yes, I every year give up meat for Lent. Admittedly, until about ten years ago, I didn't realize that fish and seafood weren't meat. I'm not cavalier about definitions, but suffice it to say that when you're taught to give up meat on Fridays and you eat seafood instead, well, those things are hard to drum out of your brain.

I also don't drive past the speed limit unless I'm putting myself or someone else in danger because everyone else is going exceptionally fast. It's an odd one to do, but I practice this because it reminds me that I am not more important than any one else, that my time isn't more valuable, and that I need to make space and time for myself so that I won't feel the need to rush while driving.

So what is the thing that I've taken up? Six years ago, Stephen joined me and together we began at Union Station Homeless Services as volunteers. It's the largest agency in Pasadena, or actually all of the San Gabriel Valley. We decided that in addition to giving something up, we'd offer something back to the community.

Our affection for helping at Union Station can not be minimized. On a personal level, this practice unleashed a life-giving force in me. We loved what we did and we became regulars. It's been six years and that Lenten discipline has never ceased.

As a journey of spiritual exploration, it opened my eyes not just to what we do, what we don't do, and what we can do, but it kept them open to all those things and more. Lent didn't end on Easter that year for me. Whenever I walk the labyrinth, whenever I help those in unfortunate life situations, whenever I try to help heal an open wound, I feel that my Lent, like my Camino, continues.

May your journey of faith this season bring you and take you to surprising new life.

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