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Lent and random acts of kindness

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

What are you giving up for Lent?

I still don’t know what I’m doing, but I don’t think I’m going to be giving up chocolate (which I’m not that excited about) or alcohol (I don’t drink beyond the odd – very odd – G&T). I don’t think giving up a food item is really up to much. Who benefits when you switch from chocolate to crisps? It’s not exactly going to do anything to improve the state of affairs is it? And just seeing it as a chance to lose weight doesn’t really seem to match the needs of the season.

I rather liked the idea that Alan the vicar in the Archers on Radio 4 came up with – give up gossip and engage in spontaneous acts of kindness. That sounds more like it. I think I’ll give it a try. There is way too much gossip in the world, there really is.

I also thought about doing the 40 in 40 challenge – clearing out 40 bags of stuff in 40 days. As I’ve been gradually clearing out over the past few months I’m not sure there would be 40 bags of my stuff left to take. Even the kids – or two of them at least – have had a chuck out recently. I’d have to tackle my DH’s stuff. Which would probably result in divorce. Better not go there.

At church yesterday our lady assistant chaplain, Sarah talked about trying to live frugally in Lent so that we can give more. Sounds good to me. Living frugally will probably also free up some time to – as she put it – live more meaningfully. Slowing down and taking time to reflect more – on faith, yes, but also on how we live our lives and how our lives impact on those around us.

For a long time I’ve been heading down the path of simplicity – which I imagine probably pretty much equates to Sarah’s frugality. Taking time to live more meaningfully. Not multitasking and doing everything on automatic pilot. Slowing down and actually taking the time to listen when other people talk. Focusing 100% on a child who needs help with his homework rather than trying to combine it with doing the ironing or cooking the dinner. I think everybody benefits when we live frugally. We actually live life to the full – 100% doing the things that we choose to do – rather than a rather unsatisfactory and stressful juggling act. Not shopping frees up rather a lot of time, so does not gossiping, not to mention not spending hours aimlessly surfing the net.

This Lent I’m going to live life to the full…but slowly. I’m going to be mindful of those around me and take the time to listen for little hints that may mean that something somewhere isn’t right and someone somewhere needs a helping hand. I’m not going to let myself be drawn into gossiping and I’m going to take a little time every day to meditate on the meaning of Lent and the way to the cross. Our world seems to be in a right old mess at the moment – and I’m going to do my part by following Alan’s suggestion and engaging in random acts of kindness.

That’s all. End of sermon.

If you don’t do religion I apologise, but this was on my mind today! Quilting and knitting will probably return tomorrow!



7 Responses to “Lent and random acts of kindness”

  1. Linds Says:

    You could be writing what is in my head, Helen. I have thought long and hard and had planned on doing just that. Live frugally and simply with mindfulness. And the 40 bags will be vacating the premises too. I need to give away a great deal.

  2. Katy Says:

    Sounds like a great plan!

  3. Dianne Neale Says:

    I don’t “do religion”, as you put it, but what you are saying applies whatever your “affliation”. We have in our past, got wound up in the world where you are judged by what you’ve got, not what you do or how you do it. Thankfully circumstances took us away from that world. We live a much simpler life here in Czech. For many years people have nothing, so values are very different. Spending more time with the family, enjoying leisure time, not working all hours, making do with what you’ve got. I think that’s why we like it (people do think we’re odd). But sadly we’ve seen that changing in the seven years we have been here, as people want what they see everyone else has! So I would add to your sermon. Be happy with what you have!

  4. CarlaHR Says:

    I am not officially religious (although I do have a core of some kind of belief instilled in me) – your post did not offend me in any way (as some others do). According to my grandsons we “have way too much while others have nothing”. Well, there is not much I can do to rectify that situation (other than try to donate to worthwhile organizations) but I can, and do, appreciate all that I have (worked hard to achieve and why in the world is it now a burden?????).
    I too am working on trying to do with less – except fabric and wool and the recycling people love to see me (it is an organization that puts people back into the workplace).

  5. diane stanley Says:

    I like this idea. For years I have thought giving up a food was just for when we were kids. But as an adult I try to take on one extra spiritual thing, whether it be going to weekday mass, saying the rosary, just praying more. Yesterday, our deacon said he is giving up a food, but with the money he will save by giving that up he will do something good for the poor. That’s a good idea. I still haven’t decided what to do, either.

  6. Julie Says:

    A very beautiful post, dear Helen. Thank you…

  7. Lisa Says:

    I am giving up chocolate, which I do every year but which I have only ever successfully accomplished once but which I am determined to do this year. No cheating. Less easy to quantify (and do!) but which I am going to try every day is to be a little more patient. To achieve this I probably need to be a little more organised!