Friday, February 20, 2015

Jumping on the Religious Bandwagon, or When Chloe Tries to Post Something Meaningful about Self-Discovery at 5am

So yesterday (or two days ago; but I prefer to think of my days in terms of when I go to sleep/wake up) was a day known as Ash Wednesday, commonly celebrated in Catholic and some Christian churches. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter. I never grew up with either of those two ... holidays? so I'm honestly not 100% sure about the significance of Ash Wednesday, but there it remains. Traditionally, those who celebrate/acknowledge Ash Wednesday get a cross marked in ashes on their forehead, which they keep for the day as a reminder of Christ's sacrifice. Those same people usually then "give up" something for Lent, be it chocolate, Facebook, or some other addiction that distracts from God. They are also challenged to look at themselves honestly, without making excuses, and find something/things that they would like improved about themselves and fix it (huh this sounds familiar).

In honor of this tradition, our chapel Wednesday morning was devoted to just that. Our pastor challenged us to find the excuses that we make and throw them out the window, replacing them with a spirit of taking responsibility for our own actions.

Now I'm almost completely sure that I'll regret posting this because it's 5am and I get more and more brutally honest the later it gets, but I'm going to say it anyway. I was innocently sitting in my chair, listening to Pastor Woody like a good Christian college student, and I was  dutifully thinking through my life to find some area in which I make excuses so that I could proudly root it out and be a better Christian for it at the end of the 40 days. And maybe I was just way too tired that morning or something, but I couldn't come up with jack squat.

But I figured that something would come to me, or if nothing else, I could ask the people who know me for anything they've noticed me doing that needs fixing (an offer which still stands), so when Pastor Woody offered the ashes to everyone at chapel, I decided to just go ahead and jump on the religious bandwagon (<-- sarcasm ... so we're all on the same page) and get those ashes on my forehead. And I did. But I still couldn't think of anything.

I'm not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed that I forgot about the ashes for most of the day (although fortunately I didn't smear ash all over my face at any point). On the one hand, I'm supposed to be remembering Jesus' sacrifice and all, but on the other hand, at least we know that I wasn't just trying to look holy. Snaps for Chloe. (It's really late. I'm really snarky.) But I did remember the ashes whenever I saw my face in a mirror, and every time I remembered, I tried again - and failed again - to come up with something that I was making excuses for.

Now I know that I'm extremely far from being perfect, so that couldn't possibly be the reason. I honestly couldn't think of what the problem could possibly be, why I couldn't think of anything, so I decided to let it slide for the moment, a decision which turned out to be a wonderful illustration of what the problem actually was.

Earlier tonight, we had our biweekly liturgical chapel (which I think of as my sister's chapel since she co-leads, therefore I always go). Liturg is usually my favorite chapel. Sometimes it can be a bit dull, but overall, it reminds me a little of my home church, so I like it. This liturg was different from the other ones I've been to though. One of the music ensembles (men's chorale) performed, they were amazing, yada yada yada, but the point of this story was that the director read a prayer before they started singing. I know this post is already long, but I'm going to copy the prayer here because it's beautiful and it can illustrate my point far better than I ever could.



Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams
have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because
we 
sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance

of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life;

having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts

to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show

your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

I was passive, that's why I didn't care enough to think of anything. I'd given up that constant thirst of seeking after the truth because I was already exhausted from school and life and excuse, excuse, excuse. That was my making excuses. "I can't think of anything and I don't have the time to think about it, so I'll just move on." That's probably the biggest excuse I could possibly have made, but I still couldn't see it because ... I was too busy making excuses.

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