Yesterday I recognized how I had failed (and continued to fail) at keeping my Lenten penance. The deeper issue that keeps confronting me is my intention--or attitude--this Lent. What sort of posture do I bear as I go about my day? If someone were to catch me in a moment in which I thought I was unobserved, what would they see? Would they see me in deep, contemplative prayer, or rushed, distracted prayer? Would they see me extending extra gentleness to my children, or would they see me snapping at them? Would they see me going about my day mindfully, or would they see me moving from one thing to the next with nothing but the force of habit to steer me?
Christians are called during Lent to bear the burden of mindfulness, self-awareness, and self-emptying to the extent that they are able. What does this mean for me, an enthusiastic novice of the Benedictine Canons? Does it mean, for example, that if I'm sending my daughter to her room because she's interrupting my midday prayer, I'm doing my prayer wrong? Does it mean that if I'm puttering through my day without setting any particular goal or intention, that I'll end up casting about with nothing to show for it?
Lent is a season of obligatory self-sacrifice, but the self-sacrifice isn't the goal. The change of heart, made possible by a mutual meeting between ourselves and the Divine One, is the goal. What will I need to do today, this hour, or this moment, to raise my awareness enough to realize God's been waiting for me this whole time?