I've been trying to write this post for about a week now, and it's just not coming together for some reason. So this may be scattered and rambling, but I'm posting it anyway. So there. =P
I am a list-maker by nature. If I don't write it down-- be it groceries or directions or deep thoughts-- I don't really know it. I was a Girl Scout, and must have taken to heart the motto: Be Prepared. I like being prepared. I always pack more than I perhaps should, because you just never know what you might need. I feel much more confident by the time an event rolls around if I have been preparing along the way, and I can actually enjoy myself rather than stress out about it. I think this is why I traditionally like Lent...and Advent, but that's another blog for another time. (If you aren't familiar with what Lent is or how it is observed, you can check it out here.) I like pretty much everything about this season-- the pensive, dark tone of the music, the time set apart to reassess my life and my faith, the practice of *fasting* from something in order to intentionally focus more on God, the preparation spiritually to be really ready to celebrate the resurrection. It appeals to me, this six weeks of getting ready. If you've never observed Lent before, I would encourage you to consider giving it a try-- if not this year, perhaps next year.
While most of what we are supposed to be focusing on during Lent is not outward but inward--the state of our own soul and our relationship with God-- there can be some ways that we can outwardly observer the season, as well. Fasting, in order to focus our thoughts away from the body and to remind us of our dependence on God, and hopefully directing us to spend more time with Him, is one way this has traditionally been done. For nearly ten years, I fasted during the day-light hours as part of my observance of Lent. It was an amazing discipline for me. I have also given up various other things along with it-- red meat (not years I fasted, though!), chocolate, caffeine and coffee, french fries. In the past few years, however, I decided that rather than giving something up I would take something up-- I made it my Lented resolution to write a letter a day to someone I love. There is giving up involved in that-- time; the walls that often distance puts up between people, at least for me; trading my self-sufficiency for vulnerability with others. It is always a great challenge, and a great blessing for me. This year, I am going to try and write letters as well, but I'm aware that one a day may be a higher standard than I can live up to. We'll see.
What I am giving up for the next six weeks, however, are my internet distractions. I will keep up with email and with my blog, but everything else that isn't study related is gone. I have been realising lately how much time I waste playing around online. I love Facebook; several of my friends are on there, and it's been a fun way to keep in touch. But there are so many little games and quizzes and this and that... it's not good for my work. Neither is my online forum of which I am a moderator, and I dearly love. The conversations are always interesting (if not very profound), and as I've been there for more than a year now, it is a community I know and have come to appreciate. But again, I get caught up in chatting there and neglect my studies. There are other places I check out now and then, but those are the major two. For the next six weeks, instead of conversing and playing and spending time there, I hope to instead use the time I'll get back to be, first and foremost, as productive as possible on my thesis. I also hope to have more time to write to the people I miss (email and real letters), to play my flute some for fun, to enjoy some face time with friends here without feeling guilty for not working, keeping up with my journal and devotional time better. I am hoping that, after Easter, I will be able to rejoin my online friends and celebrate with them-- but in a much more responsible (on my part) manner.
So today, I play! And tonight I eat pancakes (it's not Mardi Gras here, but Pancake Tuesday.) I like overindulging on pancakes better, anyway. Tomorrow I start my preparations....