I began Lent with gusto on Wednesday. I thought up a series of interesting posts designed to inspire contemplation and ethical meditation and enlightenment, each post discussing an ethical attribute described in the New Testament – but not necessarily always practiced very well, especially by Christians. I wrote out a schedule, experienced profound inspiration — and then got the flu.
It is now Sunday afternoon (the 17th) as I write this, and I have been in bed asleep – no, catatonic – with fever approximately 18 hours a day since Ash Wednesday. When semi-conscious, I lay in my dark room listening to the blizzards outside and the gurgling humidifiers. I occasionally notice the condensation on my windows.
Oh, the disappointment!
I’ve fallen behind in everything. Everything. From cooking to writing to teaching to laundry to – everything. Even all this sleeping isn’t enough sleep. As expected, all my fire and passionate inspiration to save the world has withered and faded in the face of vertigo and pain.
Gathering up what steam I could for a full blown pity party, I quiet thought interrupted.
The *point* of Lent is not deprivation or self-flagellation. The purpose is mediation, with the act of abstaining from something (if one chooses to do this) as a reminder to, well, meditate, to be in the place where you are, and wonder if it is the place where you want to or ought to be.
This is not a practice unique to the Christian season of Lent. Every yoga practice ends in corpse pose, considered to be the most important pose of a practice, precisely to give one’s self a restful moment for contemplation and meditation. This reflective, emotional experience beyond wordy thoughts, is often the “it,” the reason or the joy we feel when we do something we love, leaving obsessive thought behind and just sensing ourselves – like during a run, or a swim, or when playing a piece if music we dissolve into, or reading a marvelous book – anything that brings us away from the business of being “me” and into the living of simply being.
Now, being feverish and only partly conscious isn’t comfy or fun – but being forced into stillness and quiet semi-darkness…. I found myself suspended in the act of meditation, the act of being. All my worries about writing and doing this big Lent Observance became less significant. I did. I do. I am in this moment. Granted, it’s taken a week-long fever and hallucinations to induce it, which I suspect says a great deal about why it’s so damn hard for me to just *stop* doing…. but it’s a start, a glimpse, a peek at the point of Lent.
I had made beautiful plans to *do* Lent (and, honestly, I’ve not given them up, which probably means I’m missing the point). This virus, though, has forced me to *practice,* to *be* in Lent – and that’s likely far more important than any theological or ethical debate. Less comfortable, sure, but probably much more honest.
I hope that you join me in these contemplations. I hope you share your ideas – especially if you disagree with me. I’d like to know why, if you do.
Whatever your personal philosophy or faith, I’m glad you are here.
Introduction to this Lenten Series, here: http://wp.me/p262AS-nF