Ash Wednesday: I started this first Be Kinder week with giving several things away and trying to bite my tongue from making a criticism. The latter was by far the harder. I was successful at taking 2 pairs of jeans and 2 tops to Goodwill. I also took 2 sheets to the Catholic Worker House. Yea! The problem came right after the Ash Wednesday service. During our parish Salad Supper that followed Mass, I commented that probably it would have been better not to sing a song during the distribution of ashes because I couldn’t hear the words of the ash giver. I may be right but that’s not the point. I was halfway through my comment at the dinner table when I caught myself and said, “Oh oh, I just violated my Don’t be judgmental resolution.” Then I tried to wriggle out of it by rationalizing that I wasn’t being judgmental about a person; it was just a comment. I can see that the temptation here is to justify my judgmentalism by calling it constructive criticism or giving feedback.

Day 2: Does it count? I wasn’t sure how I would be kinder today so I wondered if I could carry over some of yesterday’s give aways?  Since I gave more than one thing away, can I count it as several days? Since I took stuff to more than one place can it count for 2 days? The sheets weren’t new. Should I just count them as one? I then realized that paying too much attention to what counts was not in the spirit of Lent. I decided to pay attention to who crossed my path on my walk, smile, and greet them. It wasn’t much, but I saw a few people and it did bring a mindfulness to my walk.

Day 3: Beyond the usual. I went to a funeral of a friend today. I think that counts as being kind, but I would have done it anyway. Shouldn’t a Kinder Lent be about doing things beyond my normal habits? Yes. I decided to feed the hungry by taking a bunch of raw vegetables to our parish fish fry. I also dropped off a blanket to our local cold shelter.

Day 4: Progress or backsliding? Two times I stopped myself from criticizing friends behind their backs. They were minor complaints but I held it in. Unfortunately, I also made an intervention that I thought was harmless but the person took it as a criticism. I guess I have a ways to go. I also helped push a friend’s car that was stuck, but I would have done that anyway. It doesn’t count.

Day 5: Be kind to self day. Since it’s Sunday I took a long nap and watched the Olympics.

Day 6: Be kind to nature. I recycled a dying plant by putting it in the compost and saving some of its dirt for this African violet.

Day 7: Be kind to an animal. This was one of those empty days when I wasn’t sure how I would be kind. I just watched for opportunities. I reached out to a sad friend and then…I saw a dead squirrel on my walk. Hmmm. I paused then decided to pick up the squirrel with a dust pan and bury it in the holler behind our house.

In future weeks I won’t bore you with a daily log of my acts or refraining from complaining, but I thought it might be helpful to me and to you, to see the process of trying to build a habit of kindness. It takes daily intentionality and holding oneself accountable. Have you ever tried to change a negative attitude or habit? What helped?