With Ash Wednesday coming up Feb. 10, it’s time to make plans for Lent again. So, I sought to jog some thoughts by scanning my personal journals containing initiatives from recent Lenten seasons.
One year, my writings remind me, I strove to be more outgoing and complimentary toward people. Another time, I vowed to try seeing things from others’ perspectives and not just my own. Then there was the Lent I worked toward simply being more patient.
These goals are quite an evolution from my childhood fasting — giving up candy, soda, television and so on. Trust me, it was no easy task to forsake those pleasures. Then again, they were simpler to monitor than my Lenten objectives in adulthood that really challenge my thoughts, actions and conscience.
What has led me toward this deeper interior focus? Perhaps, as I grow older and hopefully a bit wiser, I’m better grasping the Lenten emphasis on conversion. Pope Francis’ words on the first Sunday of Lent in 2015 help me reinforce that principle.
"Spiritual conversion and growth … always starts from the heart: there where the match of daily choices between good and evil are played, between worldliness and the Gospel, between indifference and sharing," the pontiff said.
How have my Lenten efforts toward conversion influenced the person I am today? That’s not easily measurable, but I’d like to think my endeavors have brought me to a more intimate relationship with God.
In my humanness, obviously I will never reach full conversion. Yet I carry high hopes that the upcoming Lent will once again spur a positive change. And that the change will be permanent, one that — unlike when I’d gorge myself with candy beginning Easter Sunday — stays in place long after this Lent has ended.