On Lenten Surprises and Coming Alive

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“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Dr. Howard Thurman

I found this quote on p. 64 of Happy Catholic, a book I’ve been reading this past week, and it resonated powerfully with me.

As we inch toward the end of Lent, I find myself in awe by what has unfolded these past weeks. Every Lent as far back as I can remember has included at least a surprise or two, and this year has not disappointed. Maybe that’s why I typically begin Lent with a sense of great expectation. It seems no matter how much I try to plan my Lent, inevitably it becomes a journey full of details I could not have predicted as I set upon the path.

The biggest surprise for me this Lent has been the flowering of a project I could not have conceived of at the season’s beginning. In fact, even a week ago, this project had not begun to come to light, and yet, here it is: a public collaboration between me and my new friend, Neece, an atheist. Our blog, An Atheist and a Catholic, launched yesterday, and so far so good.

A few weeks back I mentioned our email relationship in a post here. And then, just this past weekend, I had a rather zany idea that perhaps Neece and I might share some of our private thoughts in public so that others might benefit from what we have learned. To my surprise and delight, she agreed, and here we are, just days after we started a lively and quick-thinking back-and-forth over email to determine color scheme, font and other details. It’s been an exhilarating, hopeful endeavor through which I’ve come alive!

Please don’t misunderstand and think it’s all been roses. In the past four months since I first met Neece through the blogging world, our email discussions have more often resembled the dreaded thistle — at least initially. Recently we each admitted that at times we were scared to check our inboxes in the event we might find email messages from one another that contained something controversial. But we’ve worked through so much muck, that instead of being on separate islands yelling at one another as some might expect, we are standing on a patch of virtual beach, two little girls with different colored suits wanting to make friends and show others it’s possible.

It won’t be easy. But if the way in which we’ve worked together over the past week is any indication how it’s going to go, I have a very positive feeling about it, and Neece does, too. In the first hours of this venture, we were on our way to 200 visitors. Early indications are that people from both ends of the worldview spectrum are eager to see what we’ll share. Yep, pressure’s on, but we’re ready! I can’t help but think of Pope Benedict’s recent challenge to believers and non-believers to begin trying to come together with the mission of creating a duet rather than a duel. That’s what this feels like to me at this point — more duet — even if it wasn’t always easy getting here.

Recently, I’ve become more mindful of what’s fueling this vitality charging through Neece’s and my inboxes. I would call it grace. I realize Neece wouldn’t name it that, but to me, when things are humming along in what feels like extraordinary fashion, I can’t help but consider that a supernatural power may have entered in. It’s up to Neece and I whether we’ll make good on that grace, to use it well, but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s there and the source of the excitement I feel.

If you can, stop and visit us on Thursdays. For now, here’s a link to our introduction as well as our journeys and hopes post.

Q4U: What, if any, Lenten surprises have come your way this season?

Copyright 2011 Roxane Salonen

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About Author

Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on “Peace Garden Passage” at her website, roxanesalonen.com

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