I haven’t done very well working on any of my New Year’s goals for 2012.
In fact, as I mentioned previously, I had to look up my New Year’s article to help me remember what they were:
1. Learning Spanish,
2. Not talking on my cell phone in the car,
3. Learning how to use Pixelmator (the Macintosh version of Abode Photoshop) and
4. Keeping a diary.
The only Spanish words I have learned are “rapido” (quickly) and “arriba” (up), thanks to watching Dora the Explorer with my grandchild; I haven’t been tempted to use my cell phone in the car a lot and although I’ve “played” with Pixelmator a little any working knowledge is a long way away.
And while I’ve also “played” with keeping a diary (I have several documents in my computer detailing events of the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012), I haven’t made great strides in that endeavor either.
So you might say I’m not making much progress. So little, that I’m making myself a note not to make goals for 2013.
I mean, none of us needs any more reasons to beat up on ourselves or feel like we’re failing, do we?
But I found a hint for “redemption” of sorts at church this week when I realized that I could use the Lenten as a means of “self improvement,” even if it’s only for 40 days.
This week marks the beginning of Lent in many Christian religions (the period preceding Easter that commemorates Christ’s fasting in the wilderness) and because I attended Catholic schools all my life, I’ve attended mass on Lent for every single year.
I even wrote once in this column that we were in New York City one Ash Wednesday and I was shocked at the huge number of people on the streets who had the sign of ashes on their foreheads – just shocked.
My church here, St. Rose of Lima, was packed to capacity this Ash Wednesday, as it always is (we Catholics know we’re a sinning bunch) and in his homily the Rev. Mark Sappenfield again addressed Lent’s three important aspects: prayer, fasting and abstinence.
I applaud Father Mark’s ability to make these changes in relevant, meaningful ways instead of making each aspect overwhelming.
He suggested that we pray for five minutes in the morning after getting out of bed, while at stop lights in the car, and even instead of watching TV and even. Then he suggested taking change from our pockets at the end of the day and putting it into a jar to give to a needy cause at the end of the 40 days. He also suggested giving up TV, chocolate or desserts as a form of abstinence – all practical and feasible goals.
My daughter Beth shames me each year by taking on a formidable goal.
I won’t divulge what’s she’s abstaining from but it’s substantial and her zest fueled me to try to give up something meaningful too.
I was successful last year with a similar goal; we’ll see if I can achieve that this year.
But as Father Mark also said, while we’re all children of God we’re still “sons of Adam” and by our human nature subject to temptations of the world.
So while I may not become fluent in Spanish this year, maybe I’ll become a little more contemplative about the important things of this world: not money or riches or even things.
And while I might not be designing multicolored, perfect scrapbooks for my family and friends on the computer, I might be praying for their hopes and wants and good interests and needs in silent ways.
And while I can’t afford to donate a wing at the hospital with my name on it, maybe I can send a few dollars to the downtrodden in Haiti who will really appreciate my sacrifice, no matter how small.
I guess that it all comes down to trying to be better today than you were yesterday. After all, isn't that really what it’s all about?
‘Til next week.