Today is Ash Wednesday. One of the only reasons why I remember this is because yesterday was Fat Tuesday. Growing up, Ash Wednesday meant starting the day with Mass and walking proudly afterwards with the ashes imprinted on my forehead. As Catholic pupils we were charged with identifying a sacrifice, something to give up for the period of Lent. I typically gave up candy (which I wasn’t allowed to have as a kid), talking back to my parents or fighting with my brother. Ironically, the latter two were common themes in confession.
I finished eighth grade in a Catholic school and made the jump to public high. This break from religion gave me a chance to spread my wings, so to speak, and even though I challenged some of the teachings I lost my spirituality along the way. I gave up on the church and didn’t attend for years. For some odd reason I always observed Lent; I needed the sacrifice.
When asked about my religious affiliation I smirk and joke about being a recovering Catholic. I don’t ‘practice’, but I have a desire for that spiritual structure. Over the past fifteen years I’ve set foot in a Catholic church maybe four times. Each time, it’s as if I haven’t missed a step: I dip my right fingertips in holy water and make the sign of the cross, I can recite the entire Mass (call AND response), I stand, sit, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, etc. like a good student, I make a donation in the basket and I even get up for Communion.
I digress. So, today, I think about a sacrifice, but decide that ‘sacrifice’ isn’t the correct word. That sounds just too negative. I don’t need a sacrifice, I need a change. I’m going to try to ‘give up’ some of my negative thinking and focus on positive change. I’ve recently mentioned incorporating meditation into my life. This does not mean that I’ll sit in lotus pose, staring at a candle for hours while the worries of the world escape my mind; this means that I will put my mind into the present and focus on positive change within my life – positive change that will affect those around me.
I won’t sacrifice one thing, but I will make a change.