Spiritual Task of the Day: Compliment someone you aren't very fond of. Be sincere.
It’s Ash Wednesday for the Christian sect. I’d like to think that exploring different religions and spiritual practices is good for the soul. So what is Ash Wednesday? It’s the start of Lent. It’s the day you begin to sacrifice a luxury for 40 days (until Easter), mimicking Jesus’ 40 days in the dessert praying and fasting.
The realist in me does not like this idea whatsoever. What if, let’s say, your ultimate personal indulgence is chocolate. You absolutely LOVE chocolate. You live for that moment in the day when you get to consume a piece of chocolate and enjoy the flavour as the creamy rich texture fills your mouth with a happy goodness that makes you tingle all over. Now really, why would you want to give that up? What harm does one little piece of chocolate give you, when it’s followed by such pleasure? We aren’t talking about heroine or cocaine here, just one little piece of chocolate. And let’s say you do decide to give up chocolate for lent, and you die on day 39. That’s 39 moments of sheer happiness you missed out on… for what? Exactly.
On the other hand, from a spiritual point of view, Lent can be a very useful ritual to take part in by simply flipping around the idea a little. Instead of giving up a luxury in your life, why not give up something that hinders you. Think of something you do that represses your spirit or you dislike about yourself and consciously give that up instead.
Here are a few examples:
For 40 days I will stop…
- Saying anything negative about myself.
- Procrastinating, I will finish the projects I have started.
- Taking things for granted. Take a few minutes everyday to be grateful for the little things.
- Focusing locally and start focusing globally by keeping up with world news and events.
- Talking and start listening.
- Mourning what could have been and focus on what IS.
Well you get the idea… give up something that will increase your spiritual well being not something that makes you happy.
If you want to make the whole process a little more ritualistic, go ahead and write your resolution on a piece of a paper, and burn it (using all fire-safety precautions) letting the ashes fall into a bowl. Dip your index finger in the ashes and mark a cross or and X on your forehead with the remnants while concentrating on your new goal.
After the 40 days, at Easter, you can look back and reflect on what’s changed in your life since you’ve made your chosen alteration. Perhaps you will choose to keep it up even after Lent. If not, at least you didn’t miss out on the chocolate!