If you grew up Catholic, or had a friend who did, you are familiar with Lent as a time of “giving something up.” It is healthy for people of all religions and walks of life to experience periods of fasting, self-improvement and reflection, so do not shy from today’s wisdom for the religious undertones.
As Lent ends for me tomorrow on Holy Thursday (and not actually on Easter, as I always thought), I wanted to take this final week to reflect on these 40 days and my Lenten vows.
Prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial are the traditional aspects of Lent, not only the latter which we are all most familiar with. In recent years, I have been too lazy and weak-spirited to give up a vice and found the easy way out saying I’ll improve my diet, increase exercise and be a better person.
This year, I really tried to make an effort. I fasted from meat on Fridays and a few chosen days. I gave up drinking pop (and stuck with it for the first time in countless years).
But I did still want to incorporate almsgiving– justice towards your neighbor. I set out on a mission to complete 40 Random Acts of Kindness. You know, running after someone who dropped a glove. Donating money to a cause. Smiling at a stranger.
Well, after a few weeks I fell behind. In fact, I’m only about halfway. But what I realized along the way is there are countless acts I do each day that I simply considered part of my character, not a “random” act. I often smile at strangers, always try to be honest, pick coats up off the floor and, as a waitress, make it my duty to run out into the cold after a guest who left something behind.
Overall, this is the first Lenten period in many years that I feel prepared for the upcoming Easter holiday. And all the Catholic stuff aside, I hope you are inspired to be your best and constantly live the fullest, most honest life you can– both toward yourself and others. This manifesto is a good place to start.