Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thoughts on Lent

I read "The Three Marriages" this week by David Whyte. The idea is that we have three relationships- our work, our love, and our self. I was interested in the ideas of how these work together and pull at us. The first quote that struck me was, "I thought of how much time human beings spend in circumstances they would never willingly choose for themselves." These circumstances are where we find our inspiration.

Living in Japan, but not being able to read signs or speak my thoughts, I feel like an outsider; but then, my Japanese friends include me in events and outings and occasionally someone translates part of the conversation and so I feel like part of the group. I don't have to grasp every word to appreciate the sentiment being shared. If sometimes I am outside of society then it seems that I experience this as well with my American friends whose lives I do not fully share either. It is a strange observation post and one of my own making, this land between two cultures. Still, it only helps me see myself more clearly as the cultural layers sit on each side of me. I am more aware of the differences and the sameness. Sometimes I like the Japanese ways and sometimes the American ways. I have made choices to be here and yet there have been difficult moments that I did not want. Working on year four, I have more confidence in my choice of a being American Navy wife navigating Japanese life. My initial stress was wondering if was even wise to do this which has given way to a definite yes, but it took a while. The difficult things cause so much growth. Once you experience the growth, you can't change it and you don't want to go back even if you could.

I have noted lots of talk and FB notes about what friends are giving up for Lent or in a few cases doing extra for Lent. I was thinking of Jesus being outside of society in the desert fighting the devil for forty days and wondering if giving up diet cokes, chocolate, and meat are in the spirit of Christ? What is it about pulling away from society and going to the desert that he got from his experience that helped him grow and change? I can't put my finger on it, but me giving up chocolate is more about me not growing fat. I think there is deeper work to be done during whatever period we seek to embrace it- whether Lenten time or another. What deeper work though? This is where I want more quiet time and rest to see what emerges. There is too much mud floating in my brain water. I need some time for it to settle down for a clearer view. I like that we have this season to put energy into fighting our devils. It seems we are fighting the surface devils and not the deeper demons that really change who we are. In America, we can gloss over our problems to deny our struggles or we can dwell in the struggle and never move on. We either appear perfect or a mess which limits our understanding and ability to learn from each other. What you learn from falling in love is as interesting a story as how you met, but I only ever ask people how they met. Do we really even ask each other revealing questions and learn from each other as in conversation or do we just use people as listening devices to hear our own agendas? I am not sure. I think it is a mix, and I include myself in both groups. I think for Lent it might be more of a struggle to ask revealing questions and try to have a conversation than to give up chocolate- more out of my personal control. I think the time in the desert is about letting go of control amongst other things. Letting go allows us space to let other things come into our lives. Controlling our intake Vs. let go of our ego and open up to others to see what comes from us and them?