The first day of Lent feels like New Year's Day. The champagne has stopped flowing, or, er, the paczki are gone but for the crumbs, and I'm left here with a dirty forehead and a question: Can I do this?
I'm not good at resolutions, so I don't usually make them. I tend to be so all or nothing that I lose sight of the reasons for the changes I'm trying to make. This year I made a great New Year's Resolution: to try new things and meet interesting people. Finally, a resolution I have a chance of keeping! I couldn't come up with something quite so fun for Lent, however. I'm kicking myself today because I allowed Lent to start without a concrete plan in place. Now I'm one day in and I haven't developed any hard and fast rules for myself.
I like rules. I may not always obey them, but at least if they're there, I can feel safe. I feel I would've done well in pre-Vatican II days, when penances were set so clearly before the faithful. Now, left to my own devices, I tend to be overly harsh or really easy on myself.
It's just too vague to say "I'll grow closer to Jesus" this Lent. So I'm going to make a handful of solid plans for myself, here on the first day of Lent. (Tell me it's not too late....it's never too late for this, is it?) I'll keep them mostly between me and The Big Guy, but I'll share the one I've come up with so far: I'm going to say "thank you" more often.
I'll start each morning by showing my gratitude to God for giving me one more day to serve Him. I'm going to keep it simple: Thanks, Father.
I'll say thank you to my kids when they help with chores. I'll thank my husband for working so hard for our family. I'll be grateful to my friends who listen when I call them or email them to whine about my latest problem. I'll thank my parents for putting up with me when I was a teenager. I'll thank the lady at the dry cleaners and the mail carrier and the pharmacist for doing their jobs and making my life better as a result.
I do really appreciate all of these people, but my goal is to tell them. We all need to hear those words, don't we?
And I just might develop a more grateful heart, something I sorely need, in the process.
And a grateful heart is one that is necessarily closer to Jesus, right?