Lent has been over for 2 weeks. So…has it made any difference in my (or your) daily life?
Sure, I donated clothes and supplies to worthy causes. I eventually organized the loose papers that cluttered my desk. These acts felt good and cleaned up stuff but did not do much to focus my life on what’s really important – furthering loving relationships with others. Folks in need can use some of my stuff, but my personal attention may be even more important.

Five Holy Week experiences, however, taught me to look beyond decluttering and my environmental efforts.

  1. Taking the bus: On Good Friday Jim and I decided that rather than drive, we would take the bus to a Good Friday service. We were being good stewards of the environment, right? The experience, however, went beyond saving gas. I noticed who boarded the bus and sat near us – most appeared poorer than me, one had difficulty walking, another appeared mentally handicapped. Most were of a different race from me. Hmmm. Riding the bus became more than an environmental gesture, I was crossing paths with people who suffer every day from poverty, and life’s limitations.
  2. A Movie: I watched a movie about racial discrimination in the Cincinnati area. The movie itself raised the social justice issue of historical racial injustice and what could be done today. Good. BUT, it was way too loud! At first, I just complained to myself and pulled up my hoodie. It was still too loud. Eventually I listened from the hallway. This made me think of people who are deaf or blind. Hmmm, I’m privileged to be able to hear at all.
  3. “Can you hear me?” Speaking of hearing, I was parked at the library and as I got out of my car, I heard a man in an empty parking lot yelling to seemingly no one – “Can you hear me?” Because of my Rain Walker experience several weeks ago, I decided not to ignore this plea for help. I asked the man what he needed. He said, “a ride home.” (He was legally blind, limped, and spoke broken English.) I decided to risk it, offered a ride, and eventually we found his home.
  4. Having a Beautiful Body: Because Jim and I are of a certain age and have Medicare, we qualify for free memberships at the local Planet Fitness. Once a week we add this to our daily bike ride or walk. I noticed that some members are clearly overweight. My first impulse was to be judgmental. Maybe they eat too much junk food, watch too much TV, etc. But then I remembered my recent post about trying to give up judgmentalism for Lent. I also realized that we were both lucky to have grown up in families where healthy food, exercise, and self-esteem were foundational. 
  5. Desk decluttering: Finally, I got back to organizing the many free flowing papers on top of my desk. I started with pruning my medical back-up files. Do I really need 10 years of Rx receipts? No. As I shredded the older unnecessary files, I thought of people who don’t have adequate health care or the money to pay for it.

The underlying lesson? Opening my eyes and ears to be more attentive to the people I pass and situations I encounter may lead me to a deeper spirituality than decluttering. Now it’s on to conquering systemic and political change that is needed to make our society fairer for all. But these challenges often feel tiresome. The challenge is to stay with it, not give up.