"Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock," according to the Rev. Ken Collins. How appropriate. This year Ash Wednesday (the traditional begging of Lent, the seventh Sunday before Easter) fell in the middle of a week of hard work and stress -- which has led to the onset of one of my "sinus infections". At least I think it's a sinus infection. It's not the flu and it's not a cold. But I can feel it: that scratchy throaty-vaguely feverish-totally exhausted feeling that lets me know that in a few days I'll be sneezing and blowing my nose and hacking and coughing...
Not surprisingly, at least for me, it's also brought on a period of self-doubt and concern about the job. Not that anything's going to happen. I'm pretty confiedent that my job is secure and that I'll get through the next couple of weeks and then things will change and there will be new challenges. But in the meantime I'm going through whatever this is, and trying to leave the past behind and not worry about what hasn't yet happened, the better to concentrate on what's in front of me.
And I'm not trying to outrun it. I'm taking the advice of a number of people who advise just being with whatever I'm going through, examining it, thinking about it, letting it be with me. Reflecting.
And I'm trying to see it as an opportunity. The other day I stopped and thought, "Okay, what's the opportunity here? What can I gain from going through this?" The answer was almost immediate: I am finding that I am loved and that I have friends who truly, deeply care about me and my well-being and happiness. I'm surrounded by it. How can that not be a good thing?
Even writing here helps, putting it into words, composing my thoughts about it and sharing it. With friends near and far. And friends I haven't even met. They say that in sharing your troubles you get to divide them up and give them away and make your burden lighter.
So I'll use my unease and stress to take stock and reflect, and be grateful.
I usually don't give anything up for Lent. But maybe this year I'll try giving up the suffering. Pain, they say, is inevitable in this life. But the suffering is optional.
Besides, it will leave me in a good mood for the arrival of the Easter Bunny.