What I Learned This Lent

Back in February (can anyone remember back that far?) right before Ash Wednesday (can anybody remember back that far?), when I preached in my church (does anyone remember actually going to a church for a service?), I talked about what I was going to do for Lent. Specifically I said (and here I am quoting myself again!):  "This year I am making a firm commitment to perform one act of kindness each and every day of Lent.  To keep myself "honest" I will keep a journal of what that act is each and every day.  Because I freely admit that I tried to do this in the past, but I don't recall being mindfully focused on performing at least one specific kind action every day.  And by keeping a daily tab on what I have done, I will have a record of kindnesses that I have done; hopefully something that I can reflect on and be proud of.  Something that is NOT just daily routine.  I want this Lent to be not the way I've always done it.  I want it to be focused.  I want it to be meaningful.  And I hope to learn from it." 

At the time it seemed straight forward and simple.  But as we all know now, NOTHING is straight forward and simple.

It started out on Ash Wednesday.  My mom was having eye surgery that day, so I didn't go to my church's evening service.  Instead I did a "drive by" at another local church before heading to my parent's house (which is a 90 minute drive.)  I made sure to send a thank you note to those responsible for the "road side" service and the next several days my acts of kindness had to do with taking care of my parents and behind sure to be kind and thankful to those who I met while running errands for my parents.

New neighbors moved in and I wrote a note with a gift card to Dunkin.  My parents had heating problems and I publicly praised the contractor that helped them out.  (https://bfthsboringblog.blogspot.com/2020/03/customer-service.html)  My son was in the school musical and I sold tickets at the door for every show and paid for tickets for some people.

Then things changed.  My daily acts of kindness were limited because I wasn't acting as I normally would.  My office was closed; my shopping habits changed.  As such daily acts of kindness turned into simpler things.  I tried to keep up my daily walks (alone), but made sure that I said hello to every single person I passed.  If they responded, I always end the conversation with a "stay well."  When remote learning stressed my son, I manage to get his tutor online.  (And "gifted" her a certificate to a local business.)  I offered to pick up groceries for others when I went for myself.  (And I ALWAYS thanked those who were working there...I cannot imagine how stressful a time this is for them.)  I held virtual gatherings with friends.  I hand wrote notes to members of my church who are homebound.  And every morning, I call a co-worker just to check in.

To be honest, these acts of kindness for others, have probably benefited me more than those who have received them.  I've had conversations (from a distance) that I would not have had.  I've reconnected with people who I had lost touch with.  I've learned new things.  I've even gotten a few "gifts" as a result of my acts (A neighbor paid it back/forward with produce that she ordered on line...there was so much that I was able to share it with another friend.)

Lent is over, but I'm continuing to do acts of kindness EVERY day.  They may be simple, but they are intentional.  I keep track of them; not to show off, but to remind myself of what I CAN do.  And mostly to remember that for every kindness that I give, I receive so much more.


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