Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Lenten Retreat

When we were children growing up in India, there were very few Christians we knew (they are less than 1% of the population) but Lent was a biggie. We'd always ask each other what we were giving up. In my circle of friends it ranged from giving up meat (but we were vegetarian so it didn't matter to me) to being nice to a younger sibling, or helping more with chores, etc. I remember feeling indignant because what's there to give up when you're already not eating well and have too many chores? I remember fasting on Fridays along with my mother. She didn't want us to because we were stick-thin and our usual meal was a thin lentil soup with rice. To this day, I make my lentil soup thin because that's the way I like it. In Indian restaurants, I find the soup too rich. But I digress.

I remember how hard it was. My stomach was noisy and if someone offered me a sandwich or chapati, I ate it. And I would be ashamed because the Muslim girls would fast from sun-up to sun-down during Ramadan and wouldn't even take a sip of water. I admired them, but was never able to hold out like they did. I prayed that God would make me strong. He did.

I tell you this because for Lent, I need to be strong again. I want to give up one of my excesses -- spending too much time on the net, blogging and reading other people's blogs, visiting the Blueboard, and reading newsy bits. It will be hard for me because I enjoy it far too much. Like fasting, this is an exercise in discipline. I see so many areas in my life I need to improve, but I can start with this one thing. I can imagine spending that lost hour (those 10 minute chunks add up) praying, reading, writing, visiting a sick friend, or finishing a project with my kids.

So, know that I will miss you all, that I may even fail miserably. I hope you will encourage and help me if I do. I will not be ashamed like I was as a child, but forgive myself and begin anew with greater resolve. I will take it one day at a time. I have another day of excess -- Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday. When we were living in Europe, it was a huge celebration, but I didn't see anyone penitent the day after. Strange. But I digress again. See what I mean about this busy brain of mine. In any case, come Ash Wednesday, I'll retreat and be quiet. I know from experience that God tends to whisper when my mind is still.

I'll leave you with this:

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10).
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.



Bish Denham said...

I will miss you while you are away, but I support you. May your time away be filled with peace. I love that line from the Bible, Be still and know that I am God, it is a powerful meditative prayer.


Vijaya said...

Thank you, Bish. You don't know how much I'll miss your stories, and Mary's and Donna's and ... you get the picture.

Off to indulge in some Mardi Gras chocolate :)

Love and peace.

Anonymous said...

We both have the same heart about Lent, my friend. I just told a friend this morning that I realized how very much time I spend online...and how very little time I've been spending in the Word. I need to do the same as you. I need to be strong. We'll be strong together! I'll pray for you.. Will you pray for me, as well?

Vijaya said...

I will hold you in my prayers. Thank you, my friend, for keeping me in yours.

Marcia said...

know from experience that God tends to whisper when my mind is still.

SO true. Bless you, friend.

Vijaya said...

Thank you, Marcia. Last night and today have been difficult with a sick cat, so I appreciate all blessings.

Amber Lough said...

You are strong. And you know it. :-)

I just gave you an award on my blog, which you won't find out for quite a while....muahaha.

Vijaya said...

Thank you, Amber. But the fact that I am here shows you exactly how strong I really am. Not very. But it's just the beginning. Everything happens slowly for me.

Mary Witzl said...

I wondered where you were! I know you will make it through Lent, and good for you for having the fortitude to do it.

For what it's worth, I love runny dal (with chapatis) and find most dals in Indian restaurants have too much gi (sp?) in them and are too thick.

During Ramadan, I felt SO sorry for my Pakistani students who could not eat or drink, of course, but also couldn't even brush their teeth or listen to music. I can't believe that's good for anybody, but most of them bore it stoically.

Vijaya said...

Mary, I didn't just mean to disappear like that ... you and I shall have my mother's dal then, when we get together. Thank you for your support.

Jean said...

I think, rather, that God whispers continuously. But we can hear Him only when our minds are still and quiet.


Vijaya said...

That was a lightbulb moment for me, Jean. Thank you for that pearl of wisdom.