Seven days of Lent have passed and I find myself held in the balance between holding on and letting go. In a real sense as I am in the middle of things — in the midst of transition — like the second pause between the in-breath and the out-breath, when the heart shallows and it’s before the next thing…unconsciously and involuntarily. I am reminded of the tension between the theoretical and the actual. Theoretically, I like change — I have an allergic response to “ordinary time” — but change seems better when it’s happening to someone else.
I am reminded of a conversation I had with my Father a year or two after I had entered the Society of the Sacred Heart and was waxing eloquently about the value of shared goods and the community of held resources to be shared by all. He listened attentively, but the eye-twinkle let me know he was about to issue a quick rebuttal. He simply replied, “that’s great, but you know you no longer qualify to be independently approved for an American Express card.” He knew that it would sear through my rhetoric as it had been a personal victory to have achieved independence as measured by American Express. It was true. The reality collided with the theory.
Real awakens me from the slumber of ideology without action. So does Lent. I stand in the balance between holding on and letting go — between really changing habits, thoughts, actions and considering doing so. I’ve been influenced lately by a book that our management team has read and been attempting to live, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. Among other management tools that take old principles and innovate them with a contemporary twist, he offers a compelling challenge to the mythology of multi-tasking as a viable way of life. The simplicity of radical change in an age-old truth — one thing at a time yields results while more than one yields compromise.
As my wise brother says to me often, “life is all about choices” — and the choice of Lent is ours — to hold on to the old ideas, old things, old files, old patterns, old habits and old ways — or to believe that the arrival of the spring seed catalog signals the time to “till” our internal garden of that which prevents growth. A week beyond the ashes and the first layer of ice melts — and it is time to heed the words of the prophet — it’s not enough to HEAR the good news. As Abe Lincoln often commented, “a sermon is no good unless it calls us to act.”
In the balance, between holding on and letting go….