Sunday, March 01, 2009


March has come in like a lion. It's snowing today and spring seems far away. This is always the hardest part of the winter for me, the home stretch. It seems as if spring will never come and then suddenly the world is green.


Though I am technically Christian - that is, I was baptized - I have never had faith or practiced beyond the occasional Christmas service. But there is one tradition that I have taken up recently. Lent. Not out of penitence or desire to prepare for Easter but out of a desire to change my thinking, my attitudes, and possibly my life. Last year I gave up negative thinking for Lent. If I had a negative thought I would banish it, and if possible replace it with a positive one. As you might expect, this was not easy though I did fairly well and have continued the practice as best I can. This year I'm trying something harder. I'm giving up habitual thinking. This includes those frequent negatives but also judgments and choices of all sorts. Any habit is hard to break and habits of thought particularly so. The monkey mind wants to follow familiar paths, to take the easy way. Vigilance is required as well as acceptance of the stumbles that will happen. But as in meditation this is not failure. You just start again. So when I have an automatic thought about something, from the guy who cuts me off at the subway door to deciding what to eat for lunch to accepting a perceived limitation I will stop and think about it differently. Modern science has come to see the brain as very plastic, malleable and changeable. We can make new roads, new patterns of thought, new habits if we try.
Since I am - technically - Eastern Orthodox my Lent will begin tomorrow and end on the Friday before Orthodox Palm Sunday which is April 12. Why are the dates different you ask? For some reason the Orthodox church still uses the Julian calendar to calculate its holidays. I have no idea why. It worked out well for me when I was a kid because we had 2 Christmases, one on December 25 and then another on January 7. Who doesn't want two days of presents and celebratory dinners (which always included cake)? Then the Orthodox church changed its Christmas to coincide with the rest of the Christian church. But it did not do this for Easter. Again, I have no idea why. It really doesn't matter. One just needs a beginning.


Cosmopolitan Omphaloskepsis said...
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Cosmopolitan Omphaloskepsis said...

It sounds like you enjoy the mental fortitude more than you do the religious implications.

Cool info; I had no idea the dates were still different.