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I have no clue what “bored out of my skull” means. It makes no sense, which I think is common to a lot of silly phrases we throw about haphazardly. In any case, I am not bored either in or out of mine, but I’m reflecting.

I live in a paradox. But don’t we all. Mine is that I seem to find a certain calmness in organizing my life into rituals. I get up at the same time, go through the same motions of making bed, cleaning up kitchen, making coffee, praying, cooking, studying. Dinner is at the same time, cleanup, computer time, news, shower, reading and meditation, TV. 

I find a certain comfort in “accomplishing” the day. But, then I can get “bored” with the sameness, the repetitive slogging through of innumerable bed makings and all the rest. I have been heard to say, “I’m just bored with taking a shower because it’s six o’clock.”

There is a certain grouchy grumbling going on here. That probably is why I’m unburdening myself. Yet, in the great continuum of life, I’m doing better than even at the moment. I’m making it. I’m surviving the trauma of a winter that refuses to let go. I’m assessing where I am and what I am doing. I’m pondering.

Reading blogs the last few days have lightened my mood. Gracious, but some of you are having much worse troubles than I am. That makes me feel better, and THAT thought makes me feel worse. If you get my drift. We all, to a degree can feel better when finding others who are doing so much worse.

Winter has sucked, but frankly, not as badly as some places in the US of A. Our woes have been tied to lots of other mishaps and unexpected disasters. Unexpected? Since they turn up with regularity, there is little unexpected except perhaps the EXACT form this one will take. I weep, and pray with certainty for the improvement of conditions for many, known and unknown. I know God did not cause it, and I know he won’t “fix” it, except through the open-hearted response of those who have relationship with Him.

It’s not a good thing to arrive at Ash Wednesday, unprepared. We are to be thinking during the run up to the most solemn of days, of what kind of penance we should be doing during the Lenten period. What are we going to “give up?” Soda or ice cream? Wasting time on FB? Playing online poker? Should we add something? More devotions? More volunteering? More something. More time thinking about the sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect and total obedience–the showing of us poor oh too human beings how to love completely and selflessly.

It all makes one feel inadequate of course. I cannot approach the Christ. I fail sometimes before the words of repentance are even out of my mouth, my tongue still curling over the last syllable. Jesus, of course understands, and forgives, and upholds, and encourages. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I turn my back. It depends–how raw is the pain? How much do I need to wallow in self pity if only for a few hours? Better people than me, far better, do better.

I look out the window and I see the sea of white that seems ever present. In fact, it comes close to being hard to remember when it was not like this. I decide my “give ups” and my “add ons” for the upcoming weeks. I shall try to do these practices mindfully and with great humility at my poor attempts. But I will be kind to myself too, for I know deeply that God offers such amazing grace each moment.

Somehow the distant clang of politics, and sports, and all that jazz, (are you eating up the lovely metaphors here?) resounds in quiet. Evan Bayh calls it quits and leaves the party in the lurch. A suspicious call (at least to me) at the pairs figure skating, Sarah sarahing, Dick “the Dick” Cheney, cheneying. . .  it all fades into a fair buzz, not subject to identification.

It is time to retreat into a mysterious world of silence, contemplating a broken world from afar. Yes we are in the world but not OF it as they say. At moments like this I remove myself from it. I dispassionately see it tattered and raw, from too much fighting, too little understanding and love seemingly relegated to personal relationships. No “fellow man” need apply.

This is the business of Lent. It is prospective examined. It is readjusting the continuum and making a nest for oneself there, somewhere between the extremes, somewhere safer than those places inhabited by Haitians and Iraqis, Afghans,  Iranians, and others who struggle with famine, war, and lack of freedom.

 It is time to pull up one’s boots and trudge on, for my life is so much easier than millions of others. Think of that. I am not walking miles for fresh water, nor standing in long lines for subsistence food rations. I am not making home in a tent, nor standing in more lines for showers and toilets. I am not worried that bombs will land upon me. I am not concerned with being incarcerated for thinking out loud.

Where I started was the thought that this winter was penance enough for Lent. But see? It certainly is not. Empathy is perhaps my theme this Lent. How to find it, grow it, and use it for the benefit of my brothers and sisters around the globe. I wish you all a blessed Lent, as we approach this fateful period. Give thanks for your own well being, rejoice in that, but do, I beg you, remember that you cannot escape responsibility. Am I my brother’s keeper Cain asked? Yes, yes you are and I am, all of us, on board this fragile planet held in God’s hand.

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