One Word: Respect

Day #6: of the Fast, Pray, Give Calendar:

So I’ll be honest, I forgot to look this morning at the FPG Calendar and I was cranky for most of the morning because I wasn’t exactly mindful.

But at the end of the day, I was able to spend some time in mindfulness and offered the day to God anyway.

In hindsight the calendar asked of me the following:

FAST from being disrespectful to anyone you encounter today.

PRAY that every experience today is an opportunity for you to exercise respect, grace, and charity.

GIVE unconditional love and kindness to someone who challenges you today.

Well, it turns out that I was able to do this anyway. And a few times during the day I was tempted to disrespect a few folks and I didn’t take that opportunity. So perhaps, God whispers to me anyway and I’m becoming more mindful despite the morning busyness that I had today.

In fact, a student I was with in the afternoon was quite disrespectful to one of my colleagues and we all noticed it and were surprised to see his classmates call him on it.

My opportunity to give came with many friends and colleagues today when I was able to show them appreciation and love for all they do for me. We spent many hours today really listening to one another, our challenges and our solutions in overcoming obstacles in our lives and jobs.

My friend, Fr. Steven Bell, CSP also called me today to discuss an upcoming trip I’m taking to visit him and speak at St Paul’s. I noticed that when I said something self-depricating, Fr. Steve would immediately debunk that thought, turning my negativity into a positive. I was able to hold that with me for most of the day and it was my moment of gratitude during my evening examen tonight.

I also began to self-depricate thinking that the Theology on Tap event we hosted tonight might not have many attendees. Instead, we had many more than we expected. Not a huge crowd, but better than we had thought.

It seems, more often than not, that the one I least respect just might be me. And perhaps lent is God’s time to nudge me away from that and into a more wonderful space where God can show me all that I am and know that I am more than enough.

Change Me, Lord

Prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes us. Kathleen Norris, the great spiritual writer was featured in the BustedHalo Fast, Pray, Give calendar today and she mentions that when we pray we ask to be changed as opposed to asking God to change something with no effort on our part, as a kind of magical being who performs at our beck and call.

Lent indeed is the stuff of this attitude. What is it that needs to die in order for us to move into a new way of being. To change for the better is what lent calls each one of us.

For myself, I have a tendency to jump to negative conclusions. I often move into the half-empty mode before gathering enough information or clarifying what others say to me.

When we begin to change attitudes, we start to see healthier options and options that lead us to more greatly respect ourselves as well as others. We begin to see how wasteful some of our energies are spent. The people we failed to forgive our of our own vainglory, the ideas we held onto too tightly that were inventions of our imagination, the times we misjudged or failed to give another the benefit of the doubt and the times we just failed to bother to care at all.

Prayer, listening to the quiet parts of our innermost being, where God resides in our hearts, closer to us than we could imagine, brings us into a place where we not only can hear what God is really trying to tell us, but where the truth can no longer hide from us.

Or rather, where we can no longer hide from the truth.

The truth about us is that God loves us more than we could imagine. And that truth is enough to change us. It can make the most hardened criminal become a proverbial good thief, asking only for Christ to remember him, even the bad stuff and trusting that God could look beyond that into forgiveness to see more than the evil that he has committed.

Can we see the same in ourselves, seeing beyond our darkness, our most vulnerable parts to see what God sees in us? In fact, can we see that God touches all of who we are, even our most vulnerable pieces of our darkness, changing it, but only with our cooperation.

Prayer invites us to change. To see what is true about who we are and who we most hope to be. Today, I tried to be most satisfied with the person that I am. To know that I am enough as I am. To not assume the worst about myself or that others assume the worst about me. Fasting from the negativity that I most often entertain.

I spent time in prayer hoping to see and hear others as they are. To hear their concerns and be able to be there for them, to be present in the way that Christ is present to me in prayer, revealing to me what I most need to see and hear.

And I was able to spend some time to help another see God a bit more clearly in their lives, hoping to see a glimpse of God in them myself.

And it was more than enough.

It always is.

Fast Pray Give: Day #1

Last night Phil Fox Rose inspired me and invited the 20s and 30s group at St Joe’s to take more seriously the tenets of Lent, namely: Fasting, Praying and Giving or Almsgiving.

So I thought I would take his words to heart. One line in particular struck me. Phil answered a question from Dawn, one of our PhD candidates in Geology at the University. She asked: “Is it OK if I just do one of the tenets really well and the other two a bit less?”

Phil’s response struck me: “I’d say we should try to whatever we can do thoughtfully as opposed to all three superficially.”

And so I thought that I’d try to keep up with the BustedHalo Fast, Pray, Give Calendar for Lent this year and to try to do each of these things as mindfully as I can.

I’ve embedded the calendar to the right so you can play along at home.

And so here is my first attempt:

I was asked to FAST from my biggest worldly vice today. I took this under the “Catholic” ideal of fasting which is to only have one full serving per day, but instead of food, I substituted WORK and began to fast from that. I’m clearly a workaholic at times and often my wife has to compete with my ministry. So I shut the computer off after a morning of answering some necessary emails and this is the first time I reopened it today. Today happened to be a day off for me—so that was a good day to try this and make it a true day off. My thoughts were still occupied with work thoughts but I also was able to put a nice Valentine’s Day gift for my wife together and send some early birthday cards and take the dog on a longer walk. I did a bit of exercise and watched a relaxing show on Netflix and read a bit for pleasure.

I was also asked to PRAY for humility and so I need to realize the the world will not fall apart if I just take a breath and not work so hard. If it were totally up to me, that would be unfortunate because there’s no way I could do it all. So I’d be trying to do the impossible.

And lastly I had to GIVE others the benefit of the doubt today. This morning I read a local news story and immediately jumped to certain conclusions about some involved who I’m familiar with. I caught myself early and was able to offer not judgement, but assistance to those involved. I was then able to pray that collaboration can continue for all those involved. It was really freeing to not jump to the horrible thoughts immediately and I’m hoping more fruit can be borne from this.

I’m off now to a Valentine’s Day dinner and a play at the Irish Theatre here in Buffalo with my bride. She’s great and I know sometimes I don’t give her the benefit of the doubt either, pre-judging her before giving her a chance to contribute to the conversation.

So day 1 is nearly done. How about you? What might you be doing for Lent?

I’ll be posting on this each day, probably towards the end of the day, along with of course news on the Pope and much more. Hope you can join in the fun—fun you say? Indeed! Lent needs not be an awful experience. We may very well need to fast or to pray or to give something away in order to be truly free.