Lent has begun! As long time readers of this blog know, in the past this has been a jump-start time for me to look at what needs to be transformed in my life like

  1. Letting go of unneeded possessions and self-centeredness
  2. Increasing my solidarity with the poor by eating on a Food Stamp budget
  3. Living more ecologically
  4. Increasing my solidarity with the poor by buying nothing (well close to nothing).
  5. Reducing the paper clutter in my work space  so I could clear my mind to focus on what’s really important.

Well, last year’s Lent was apparently more of a starting point than an ending point. Sure, I got my desk pretty well organized and have become a bit more mindful of being present to the people I encounter each day, BUT, I have become painfully aware that I still have 2 file cabinets, 4 shelving units, and one re-cluttered ping-pong table that need my attention. Unfortunately, that attention has been greatly consumed this past year with thoughts and actions geared to going beyond the stuff in my home to the hurting lives of my neighbors near and far and the environment that supports all life. This has meant a lot of political activity, but it also has left me in a political funk.

I started to realize that perhaps the most life-giving action I could take would be to enter into the world of people who think differently from me on political issues. Instead of fixating on the news and Facebook, which just rile me up, I hope to learn to love those who voted differently from me by under-standing him or her better. I decided to seek several people who had different political opinions from mine and invite them to dialogue with me. Our goal would not be to persuade or convert the other but rather to just understand each other better. I hope this will bring some calm to my spirit and free me to love less judgmentally. I imagine it will also be a journey into deeper humility. I assume and am hopeful that our dialogue will remind me that at the core we have common values but see different ways to reach them.

Bottom line: I have 40 days (God willin’and the crick don’t rise). Half of those days I will be home and can work on continuing to prune the paper in my file cabinets and shelves. The other days I will be traveling and will focus on having caring conversations with those who see the world and solutions to our common problems differently from me. Several people have already agreed to enter into one-on-one dialogues with me in person, on the phone, or by email. If you would want to offer yourself as a dialogue partner, contact me (SusanVogt1@gmail.com). Full disclosure: I voted for Hillary and my bubble of friends are mostly of like mind, so I’m especially looking for people who voted for Trump.

PS: Are there any Lenten practices that you’ve found meaningful or that you want to try? Please share.