Last weekend, a friend of mine preached at my internship congregation, and at the end, she charged us with looking at Lent as an opportunity to reflect and act on our interdependence with all of creation. I was raised Catholic, and I actually really loved Lent and the rituals around it. One of the reasons is probably that I didn't feel that I answered to God, but to my parents. One year I gave up TV for Lent, and On Golden Pond was being shown, and I was able to negotiate an extension of Lent by a day in order to watch it.
But now there is no negotiating, except with myself, so I was determined to take Libby's charge seriously. So we have given up paper products (meaning paper plates, paper towels, and paper napkins) for the duration of Lent. So far it's going pretty well, and everyone is on board with it. It's a good spiritual practice to be aware of our carbon footprint, and how much waste we generate as an already large family of six.
The idea of privation, or making sacrifice is not unheard of for my children; we aren't wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, and we regularly reuse, recycle, etc. But this is a very intentional practice, and it's been interesting to watch how everyone does it. I did threaten to make us use cloth toilet paper, but everyone insisted that was going too far and threatened to mutiny. I countered that it wasn't different than using cloth wipes that we washed and reused with cloth diapers when each child was a baby, but I didn't get very far! Apparently non-diapered butts require paper products ;).
In other news, I actually believe that spring might arrive someday, despite the weather report that says it will be in the teens tonight. There has been a tremendous migration of geese, which is one of the joys of living in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I saw an entire field white with snow geese the other day, with hundreds more filling the sky. On the Thruway over the last three days, there have been Vs of Canadian geese as far as the eye can see; it never ends. I have also seen a number of heron pairs and heard a mourning dove this morning.
I am hopeful that spring will bring a fresh start. The last 12 months have been one difficulty after another it seems. Today was no exception. Since last March, I have had two hand surgeries, and just found out that I have to have a much more extensive one next Friday, on my dominant hand, for a large cyst that is wrapped around my tendons. That pretty much eliminates gardening again this summer, much to my dismay.
My mother went into the hospital with congestive heart failure today. She has been in the hospital numerous times in the last three years, but her breathing is getting worse. She has fluid in her lungs and they suspect she has had another heart attack. My mother-in-law has been in the hospital 3 times since October, with a total of 5 weeks just since Christmas. My father died in November. I've been in and out of court with my ex-husband over child support twice, and have to go on Wednesday again, because he has filed a custody and educational modification around custodial time and homeschooling. I have been struggling with migraines and medication issues since last April.
In less than a month, I return to the RSCC, (for those not UU, it's part of the process of ministry) and I certainly have learned a lot in the last year. I have learned that crisis is not in my vocabulary. Between seminary, parenting, homeschooling, working, internship, volunteering, cleaning, and very little sleep, I have learned to take each day as it comes. I have learned that my daily spiritual practice pays off. I have learned to be much more patient, to listen more, and to incorporate silence and self-care into every single day. I've learned just how very rich I am in friends, and how right I was to follow the call into ministry.
There have been some wonderful things that have happened this year. My children are growing up and becoming more fabulous all the time. My husband is pursuing his own journey of personal transformation. I am in love with my teaching congregation. I have food; shelter; snuggly husband, pets and children; and so much love in my life.
So I guess spring will bring what it must, and life will happen, just as it always does, bringing challenge and grace, a day at a time. Namaste to all who have carried my journey with them in their prayers and hearts this year. Just a few more - for my mother, for the best outcome at court on Wednesday, and for a successful surgery next Friday, with a fast recovery.