Day 14 #LintonReflections 2016

So there’s a choice for me to make. I can beat myself up about missing the last three days or I can move forward, finding my way through the rest of the reflections.

I choose to move on. If a religious discipline causes more stress, more anxiety, and more self-loathing then it misses the point. It ought to be given up.

So I hold my Lenten commitments loosely because that’s how I have to do it. I think life trumps Lent; it must give way to life. Certainly Lent can enhance life, but it can’t trump it.

Day 10 #LintonReflections 2016

I need noise.

I’m not a particularly outgoing person, but I need to be around people.

I’m not good at being alone with myself. I am naturally reflective but enjoy contemplation in busy settings or when I’m with others (which ends up coming off like I’m ignoring people or stand-offish).

Lent challenges me to find the courage to embrace solitude, to welcome quietness. It’s also pushing me to think deeply about the reasons I have such difficulty with these things. I don’t have any real thoughts about it right now other than to say I’m starting to appreciate the questions these Lenten reflections are forcing me to ask myself.

Day 9 #LintonReflections 2016

You never know when the moment is going to occur. The moment when everything you understood as your life changes forever.

A loss. A terrible accident. A lucky break. Wrong place, wrong time. A tumor. In the time it takes to exhale, your world could turn 180 degrees.

Lent takes us to the precarious edge of these possibilities. And through the journey of Lent we ought to become less anxious the closer we wander to those edges.

Day 8 #LintonReflections 2016

Some days you gotta let it go. If what you planned doesn’t fit, or you’ve run out of time, or you’re simply tired, I think it’s ok to say, “Tomorrow.”

Take a breath. Find some grace in the fact you’re alive.

The sunrise is an incredible reset button.

Day 7 #LintonReflections 2016

I’m not one who claims to know what’s going to happen when I die. As far as I know, it’s over. Done. All consciousness ceases, ends.

Having grown up with a religiously imposed imagination of the after life, this new acknowledgement is difficult for me to wrap my mind around. I don’t particularly like it; however, I’m not going to cheat this life banking on another one.

If a life after death happens, ok. If one doesn’t then at least I’m going to die alive. And it seems an unfortunate reality of the human experience that a lot of people don’t go out in such a way.

So far during this Lent, I’ve not allowed my thoughts to wander too far into my own mortality (though I get Ash Wednesday sort of asks us to do so). Still, I’m resistant.

Today I’ve waded up to my waist into, what are for me, poignantly unpleasant recognitions. I’m going to die. I understand that. I get it may be tomorrow or forty years from now. I can’t control when as much as I’d like to. It’s going to happen and there’s nothing I can do about it.

But what can I do? What can I control? Well, I have control over how I live. I have power over what I do with the breath I have left.

Death isn’t mine to manage. Life is enough.

Day 6 #LintonReflections 2016

Incredible the difference a day makes.

Yesterday I talked about seeing through people. Today I’m thinking, “yeah but there’s more to it.”

If you follow the NFL you’ll understand the references coming up. If you don’t, I’m not trying to exclude you from the conversation and apologize if I’ve already lost you. But I think the love/hate fascination with Cam Newton (NFL Quarterback for the Carolina Panthers) inundating the latest season offered a lot stuff to chew on about who is and isn’t seen and when it matters.

For example, Newton popularized a celebration dance known as the “Dab.”

dab dabbing nfl cam newton carolina panthers

Subsequently, he took a lot of media heat for showboating and was criticized for not being a good role model.

A lot of people see Cam Newton. Still, as a young black man, Cam Newton is seen differently. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, a lot of people living at the margins aren’t seen at all and if they happen to disrupt the way we want to see reality privileged eyes tend to erase them from the scene. However, if folks like Cam Newton typically not seen or commonly seen-through show up in such a way people can’t avoid their presence, their disrupting image receives a different look than others normally seen and accepted as part of the normal line of site.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, look at this celebration:

nfl green bay packers aaron rodgers

Aaron Rodgers, an incredible quarterback but privileged with white skin, gets seen and yet doesn’t endure the same critical gaze as Cam Newton. He’s seen and not seen. Seen as a normal part of the scene. Not seen as doing anything out of the ordinary; not seen with the same judgment and suspicion as someone not typically seen at all. His touchdown celebration became a media sensation. He received a ton of money selling its charming effects to a prominent insurance company.

Reflecting through the Lenten journey, I’m faced with the difficult task of assessing my vision and deciding with what lenses I need to adjust it.

“Which celebration looks better? 1 or 2?”

“Doc, they look the same. It’s hard to tell the difference.”

But, of course, the eyes aren’t always as objective as we’d like to think.

#LintonReflections 2016 Day 5

Today I slow-rolled up to a stop sign, hit the gas and planned to keep on going until… I saw a mini-van in the intersection crossing in front of me. It wasn’t a close call. I saw it in plenty of time. No harm.

Once I actually stopped and carried on I thought to myself about how I did not see the van the first time I surveyed the other three stops, which is why I had decided to slow-roll through the stop in the first place. I didn’t see it. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t there.

How many people do I see through on a daily basis? I’m not talking about people I can’t see. I’m talking about those folks right in front of me. How often do I see right through them because I have somewhere else to be or I’ve already determined my course of action and hit the go button?

One of the myths perpetuating much of the world’s injustices comforts us with the belief that if we can’t see people hurting, aching, and suffering under the weight of an imbalanced world then they’re not really there. And perhaps Lent is a quick flash of the sun reflecting off the minivan we’re about to run into reminding us that maybe our eyes aren’t always giving us the real picture.