Wednesday, January 16, 2013

lent letters

First of all, potentially sad news. I may have to start a new blog and retire this one. I really don't want to, because I've been writing here since 2009 and was hoping to continue until I just couldn't write anymore. But over the past several weeks I have been receiving 10 pages of spam comments a day about Viagra. It's not exactly pleasant to sit there and delete all those pages. It doesn't take a ton of time, it's just annoying. I've asked Google for help, see if there is something they can do. If they can't, I may need to move hosts.

And now for something completely different. I wanted to talk about my Lent Letters project. I tend to get a lot of questions about it during Lent. It's about a month away and I've already started planning, so why not talk about it.

Some of my non catholic friends asked a very simple question: What is Lent? Well duh, that would help explain some things, eh? Lent is the span of time in the church calendar that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Jesus’ 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert, and Easter Sunday marks Jesus’ resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion. So Lent is really a time for Christians to reflect, repent and pray in preparation for Easter. Some people give up something, a habit, object or behavior as an exercise in sacrifice, to represent what Jesus went through in the desert. What you choose to give up is based on your comfort level- for some it's drinking pop others it's fasting.

The whole point of Lent is to focus your mind and heart on Jesus rather than your usual indulgences. A couple of years ago, I decided that Lent shouldn't JUST be about sacrifice, but by living Jesus' example- and making a purpose to do so. That's where the Lent letter idea came from. I don't have a whole lot of time or money, but I have my words, and I can use them in a positive, loving way. Lent should be about bettering yourself. So I chose to better myself by letting the people in my life know just how much I appreciate them. I think it's vitally important to cherish the people in our life while we still have the chance, and pouring my heart out to them on paper is one way that I can do this.

I've been writing the letters for three years now, and each year the list of people has changed. That is primarily due to the fact that the people in my life have changed- some have left, but many more have entered. This year my list is full of 80 names. Who, exactly, is on that list? Family members- some of whom I don't speak to very often, I just want them to know how much I love them. I had never put a cousin on the list before this year. I am just not that super close with my cousins. But this year, I made a change and included quite a few of them. There are friends on the list- some I've known for years and years, others are new. There are a handful of Sisters of Mercy, the ones who have played a large role in my spirituality and in my becoming an associate. There are some people in my Church/community. I wanted to put my youth group seniors on the list this year, but I decided I would wait until the end of the school year when they are getting ready to go off to college. Also on the list are three former American Idol contestants, which sounds super crazy unless you have known me for a while and know my relationship with Melinda, Mandisa, and now Erika. There's a boy on the list who doesn't fit in the "friend" category because he's more than that. And finally, there are SEVENTEEN coworkers. I know, I was surprised myself. The greatest thing about the coworker letters is that, for the most part, I'll be able to hand deliver them and see the look on their face after they read it. I usually mail the letters, but it would be silly to do that for people I see every day. I'm excited about that part.

My goals for this project are to make sure that other people know how much they meant to me. I know that sound super duper cheesy and silly, but I love the people in my life and I think they should know it. Over the past few years I have really been touched by peoples reactions to the letters. I have only twice gotten an actual letter back- and one of those was from someone I barely knew- but that's not what I am asking for or what I want. I just want people to realize what they do for other people, and to keep doing it. It has helped me to become more grateful of the people around me.

Am I giving up something for Lent? Yes. I am giving up Facebook, Twitter, meat, going out to eat during the week. But my most important promise is these letters. It allows me to see God in my life, through the people I love the most.


Shari said... Add Reply

I absolutely love that you do this. Now that I know a bit more about Lent and its meaning (thank you for the explanation!), I think it's a perfect way to honor the time period. Truly, the world would be a better place if there were more people like you. :)

Nidhi said... Add Reply

Hey, if you turn on moderated comments, you should stop getting spam!