Grateful for a challenge.

And there. Despite the Vulcan death grip the winter has on our fair state, the calendar insists that today is Ash Wednesday and we have indeed launched the Lenten season.

Or as my sister and I like to treat it, that special time of year when “spittle” is embraced in our daily vernacular. Just doesn’t roll off the tongue as smoothly during other seasons. Try it.

I’ll wait.

See?

In my younger formative years, during a tenure at a parochial school that rings clearer in my head as “that reason why I can’t wear plaid anymore,” we were taught how Lent is a season to reflect on all the divine sacrifices God made for mankind. And to help us better reflect on what it means to sacrifice, we would each commit to giving up something for 40 days. In a child’s world, the prospect of no chocolate or Saturday morning cartoons for 40 days was pretty deep.

Growing older, it became harder to find things to sacrifice. Then a wise adult offered this perspective: what if Lent was an opportunity to commit yourself to doing something you normally don’t do that could help your spiritual growth? Instead of committing to deprive yourself of something, see if you could find a way to enrich through some activity — a new daily prayer, or a service project? It changed my dread of Lent into a happier acceptance. Some years were about sacrifice, others about growth.

Here in this virtual place, I recall the genesis of this blog. It was intended to help me remember to be grateful for the many things I’m blessed with. The kinds of things that are easy to lose sight of or perhaps not give the kind of reflection it truly deserves. I’ve definitely fallen off the daily gratitude wagon, so my Lenten challenge is to reawaken my journal of Daily Gratitudes. See if 40 days of this practice can extend beyond Lent and last much, much longer.

Today? I am grateful for the incessant waking schedule of an infant. While sleep – an uninterrupted sleep lasting hours that require more than one hand for counting – would be preferred, it’s hard to be grumpy about the chirps and shouts that comprise my wake-up calls when, staggering in a half-awake state to my daughter’s crib, I’m greeted with the most dazzling smile. Time and again. She’ll find her sleep-through-the-night rhythm that she had before, and I’ll definitely feel more rested. But I’ll miss the 1:30, 2:15, and 3:30 a.m. smiles.

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