7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 163)
Hey, I just got an email saying that I’m in the running for the About.com Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Blog. Thanks, guys! Click here if you’d like to vote. It only takes about 10 seconds.
As I type, it occurs to me that a Friday in Lent is not exactly the ideal time to indulge in shameless self promotion, so I assure you that I am only directing you to the About.com awards so that you can vote for the Catholic Spiritual Direction blog.
Lest you think it’s all awards and accolades over here, I assure you it is not. Alas, the atheist population on Youtube is busying itself by providing me with opportunities for humility and forgiveness with their comments on my profile. (To see it you’ll need to click on the Comments tab, but be warned that there is language on there the likes of which you probably haven’t seen since your junior high bathroom wall.) Unfortunately, all the effort they’re putting into crafting their combox theses is kind of wasted, because they’re talking about a video that I myself didn’t think was that great. I uploaded it as a test, and only accidentally made public. Anyway, as soon as I get time I plan to remedy the situation by posting a new video that is at least worth their time to scorn.
I am always shocked by the extent to which Lent acts as a litmus test for how attached I am to the world. There have been years, for example, when I happily embraced fasting and prayer and almsgiving. Sure, it’s always hard to make sacrifices, but whenever I’d feel the pinch I’d turn my eyes heavenward, and say, “Thank you, Lord, for the reminder that the true source of our joy is not to be found on this earth!” (or something like that). This year I have already been acting like I’m dying for making the most minuscule efforts toward detachment, fidgeting resentfully during my efforts to give God five extra minutes in prayer, wondering if life is still worth living if I don’t put a scoop of sugar in my coffee. I can only imagine how bad I would get if I didn’t have Lent to repeatedly slap me upside the head for 40 days each year.
I’ve noticed that how I react to Lent usually corresponds to how well things have been going in my life leading up to it. In the years that I’ve been having a tough time, facing illness or money problems or some other crisis, I am viscerally aware of the fleetingness of worldly pleasures, acutely attuned to the truth that our hope must only reside in one place. And so Lent feels like I’m simply acting out what I already knew. This year, however, things have been going great. For the most part, it’s been a really nice past few months over here…and now, at Lent, I see just how easily I’ve gone from appreciating the good things in my life to depending on them for my daily sense of peace.
It’s a stunning wakeup call, and one that I’m so thankful for, even if it’s not easy. Because the reality is that all of this good stuff could change at any moment. Lent is a time of remembering that, of re-rooting ourselves in the only real Source of lasting happiness.
Speaking of things from which I derive an embarrassing and inappropriate amount of amusement, my entire book project was almost derailed when I discovered the reviews for the RelaxMan on Amazon. It was a moment of realizing that my whole life up until now had been a farce and that my true purpose on this earth was simply to surf Amazon for other products that had similar reviews. This new, improved vision for my existence was only strengthened when I discovered the pages for Uranium Ore (don’t miss the customer images!), the Outlook for Wooden Toilet Seats in Greater China report, as well as a few others I probably shouldn’t link to. Like, say, the top-rated review for the book The Secret. And its comments. Anyway, I spent half of an afternoon sitting in front of my computer, wiping tears out of my eyes as I laughed and gasped for air, my jaw open as if I were beholding the beatific vision. So. Yeah. It’s good that we have Lent to put these things in perspective.
If you’re anywhere near Peoria, IL, and you are a woman, you need to be planning to attend the Behold Conference on March 10. (They swung an incredibly cheap rate at a local hotel if you need a place to crash overnight.) I am particularly excited that more than half of the other women who contributed to the upcoming Style, Sex and Substance book will be there, and that I have no plans other than to just hang out and chat with everyone. (I think this is the part where I’m supposed to use the word “fellowship” as a verb, but I’m still not sure how to do that, so I’m going to stick with “chat.”) So come on by if you can make it! You can register here, and registration closes next Friday, March 1.
To properly celebrate my first week back hosting Quick Takes, let’s start this weekend off right with a video of a German magician with an iPad.