Lent is not always giving something up.

So every year before Lent, I go through this process and put some thought into deciding what I’m going to be giving up for Lent.   Some years I have given up things that I have been addicted to at the time, like the year I gave up playing Tetris or when I gave up social media.  Some years have been easier than others.

I have to admit that some years I have cheated.  I suppose cheated probably is not the right word, it’s more like I’ve taken the easy road.  Like the year I gave up dairy products. Well considering I’m lactose intolerant it really wasn’t like I was giving anything up right, when you think about it.   I remember that year overhearing my grandma tell my mom I don’t think that really counts does it.   I remember my mom saying its okay because Lent’s not just about giving something up and I might learn something.  My mom also said it was my spirituality and relationship with God.  Then I felt kind of guilty for a brief moment.  But… then I thought it was okay because God loves everyone even those who were not perfect and I’m definitely one of the imperfect in this world.

Last year, I considered giving up coffee for Lent.  Then, I came to the realization that if I gave up coffee for lent that it would just make me cranky, miserable and grumpy in the mornings.  I figured that wouldn’t be fair to my coworkers or friends having to deal with me, so I wasn’t just thinking about myself.  Besides, no one should have to start their day without a cup coffee right.

KYOTOSo, last November I spent the month in Japan.  Now I’m sure your thinking what does that have to do with Lent.   While I was in Japan I experienced random acts of kindness several times.  While I was in Osaka at the subway station standing in front of this big map, this woman came up to me and said you look confused and lost can I help you.  This woman helped me figure out how to get to my destination.  What impressed me most though was that this woman was willing to take time out of her day to accompany me to my destination to make sure that I a Canadian with no sense of direction got to where I was going.  When I told her that was okay, she then gave me her cell phone number and said I could text or call her if I got lost or on the wrong subway line.  I remember thinking at that time I’m pretty sure this would not happen on the HSR.

If you’ve never been to Japan, Kyoto on a Saturday is packed with people.  Wall to wall people.  So while I was in Kyoto my Japan Rail Pass fell out of my pocket.  I had no idea until I got to the station and couldn’t find it.  As I started to panic, this woman came up to me and said you dropped your Japan Rail Pass five or six blocks back.  I followed you here so I could return it to you.  I was so grateful for this woman and surprised she followed me, all at the same time.

So after experiencing these random acts of kindness, this lent I have decided to try something different.  So in taking a cue from the Neudorf’s and what they did for advent, I’ve decided this year to do something similar.  I’ve written 40 different things I can do during each day of Lent.   I put them in a basket and every day I choose one item randomly.  Most of them are simple things like taking the time to talk to a neighbor when I see them outside rather than just running to my car and only saying hi or running inside to get out of the cold.  Smiling at a stranger.  Holding the door open for someone when I’m out and about.  Paying a compliment to a coworker.  Baking cookies and taking them to work. Texting a positive message to someone.  Calling a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while.  Yesterday, while I was grocery shopping I let someone with only two items go ahead of me at the cashier because I had a cartful of stuff.  I wonder what I will pull out tomorrow???

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