I am a creature of habit. I tend to exercise the same way, eat the same things, and engage in the same activities. When I go for a walk, I usually take the same route. My work, though varied, normally involves the same type of tasks. I get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
Every now and then, however, I do branch out of my tried and true routine and try something new. This week has found me learning how to play chess. No big deal, right? Well, it is to me because I swore that it was something I simply could not do. My children have played since they were small. I’ve tried before to learn and been totally lost. Over the years, they have begged and begged me to learn.
“We will teach you, Mom! You can do it.”
“But I can’t get it. My brain doesn’t understand how it works.”
“You can try. You always tell us we have to try.”
Umm. . . Good point. Don’t you hate when your children use your own words against you?
So, a children’s library book on chess later, I am proud to report that I can now actually play chess. There is no danger of my reaching Grand Master status, but I now know how the pieces move, and I can play the game with them. I even won once (I would love to say that was due to my skill, but pure luck gets all the credit). To my surprise, I even find I am enjoying the game!
Getting out of one’s comfort zone and trying something new can be good for both the mind and the spirit. With Lent right around the corner, it is a good time to think about getting out of your spiritual comfort zone. What is something that you could do this Lent that would stretch your spiritual muscles?
Perhaps you always meditate, but tend not to use any formal prayers. Perhaps this is the time you could commit to trying to pray a rosary every day, or say a novena for a special intention. Or, the reverse could be true. Perhaps you rely on formal prayer but you have never been able to meditate. Consider taking a few minutes a day to simply sit in God’s presence.
If you always give something up for Lent, perhaps this could be the year you try to do something extra. If you always do something extra, this could be the year you try fasting from a favorite food or activity.
There are many ways to engage in some new spiritual activity this Lent. You could attend daily Mass, or say the “Stations of the Cross” every day. You could make greater use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You could engage in greater charitable giving, or make a concerted effort to work on a particularly difficult personal relationship.
Lent is a time set aside to help us work on ourselves, to dedicate our lives to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Hopefully, by the time Easter morning greets us, we are a little bit better, a little bit stronger in our spiritual lives. Lent offers the invitation to get out of our spiritual comfort zone and try something new. May it be a holy season for all of you.
2011 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur