Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Empty


Lent is a time for letting go—for cleaning house.  Tis’ the season for giving up things which are sensually pleasing. Things that if not checked—if not rationed in moderation could get the better of me.

As I grow older, I look less in the mirror. Call it ‘avoidance.’ Rather I’d like to think that I focus more now on those I love than on myself. Little by little, I am maturing. Motherhood has a way of doing that to you.

“I’m in repair, I’m not together, but I’m getting there.” – John Mayer

I prefer to have less lines and spots on my skin, but maybe it means my mind is more wrinkled too. Maybe my heart beats with more vessel—more flow towards Christ—towards my neighbor.

If Lent is time for making room for the good, then I must empty the excess.

I’m reminded of Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees—his admonishment of their concern for appearance. They were consumed that the outside of the cup be pristine, while the inside wasn’t fit for drinking. “Clean the inside.”

I dump out the last of my coffee. Muddy grinds, all sticky, plop down the drain. I rinse with water, clean from the tap. It is an accurate picture of me, (sometimes.)

To wash that favored mug—to sparkling—ready for what refreshes the soul—what replenishes—it has to be empty.
 

A little goes a long way. I don’t despise the small efforts that I know God will honor.

I empty the cup.

You may ask if I gave up coffee for Lent. Uh, no. Six am won't allow it. I repeat. I'm not together, but I'm getting there.

Here are my intentions:

*       Pray the Rosary instead of listen to music while I drive.

*       Give alms. It atones for sin. I believe this isn’t just Old Testament devotion.

*       Don’t Post. Don’t Comment. Don’t Like. Don’t Facebook, (as much.)

*       Write! Pour it out—through the pen—from the heart—Empty.

*       Empty the Holy Water font. Make the sign of the cross on the kid’s foreheads, before they go out the door, reminding them of their Baptism.

       Be more patient with my student driver. Just like potty training and orthodontia. Here we go again... Empty the cantankerous.

 *       Eat more fruits and veggies. Ditch dessert. 

 *      Take note of the wisdom of my daughter. She said after Mass last Sunday, “We are all so confused about why we are here, when really we aren’t here to live for ourselves.” She’s got the idea of “empty.” 

      Realize the paradox that as I’m full, I have nothing to offer that is of value. I am fat with useless flab.

 
It is only when I approach the altar with my hands open—empty—sorrowful—unworthy that He should enter under my roof—that I can be filled, with God’s welfare…for the good of my soul—then in turn for my neighbor.

In the words of St. John the Baptist, “May the light of Christ in me, increase, and I decrease.”

In a word, Empty.

What are you doing for Lent?                             

30 comments:

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  2. Susan,

    Visiting your blog as part of the Keep Love in Lent event…

    This is a wonderful reflection on what it means to "empty" ourselves for Lent. Very thought provoking and gave me some things to ponder -- what could I do to empty the excess?

    Thank you for sharing!

    Cheryl
    http://www.diary-of-a-sower.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you, Cheryl. I just added another to the list. I work in a cold warehouse with my husband. We call it "The Icebox." Over our shipping table we keep a propane heater and our computer. I usually listen to Pandora to make it more interesting. I'm doing without music now at work for Lent. Now I can say a few more Hail Mary prayers.

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  3. Allowing ourselves to be empty so Christ can fill us up is a great idea. It's true that if we are "full" we might not have room for more, or relish the idea of learning more. We are not here for this life but for what is to come.

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    1. Exactly, Crystal! The word, empty in a way seems inviting and clean, doesn't it? Thank you for reading and commenting. God Bless you and yours, Susan

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  4. Beautiful. I need to work on this myself. My too-human mind sees "doing" as "more." But, sometimes, as the Chefs say, LESS is more. And, as the Bible says, the least is the most.

    I am sharing your #1 Lenten intention, it's what I do each year. I'm also trying to live more in the quiet moments, create more quiet moments, and simplify.

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    1. The least is the most. I like that, Amy. It reminds me of the verse about the perspective of heaven: The last shall be first, and first shall be last.
      Everything is turned upside down in God's kingdom.
      Thanks and Blessings to you.

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  5. Great analogy (although I wish my health would allow me to drink coffee, haha)! I'll remember the "emptiness" idea while I clean around the house this Lent. Thanks for the inspiration! God bless you!

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    1. Hi Sarah,

      Please see my collective reply below. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  6. Thank you for the reminder to be "empty" — to decrease so that He will increase. :) I love your reflection! :) Thank you, too, for joining the link-up! God bless you and yours always! :)

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    1. Hi Tina,

      Please see my collective reply below. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  7. What an applicable metaphor, Susan! And I have to laugh when I think about not giving up coffee for Lent. I can't remember where I read this (a book, a blog...), but a mom wrote that she doesn't give up sugar for Lent anymore because it makes her cranky and difficult to live with, which hardly seems in the Lenten spirit. That was wisdom to me. I also thought of an article I read recently when you wrote about emptying the holy water font (http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/6-liturgical-no-nos-during-lent). The point there was to explain why fonts shouldn't be emptied in churches during Lent, but I kind of like the idea of doing it at home. Thanks for sharing that! Good Lent to you.

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    1. Hi Regina,

      Please see my collective reply below. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  8. You have one wise daughter. Love her wrote. And also love your practical, personal AND reflective post. Glad to be introduced to your blog.

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    1. Hi Martianne,

      Please see my collective reply below. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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  9. I have tried to reply to each one of you indivdually, but for some reason, my 'bloggy thingy' won't let me do it!
    Sarah Therese, I love that spring cleaning has Lenten origins. I find it helpful to deep clean when I'm in a foul mood. It's spiritually cleansing and the lavendar solution I use, smells good.
    Tina, yes, the word empty isn't really empty at all, lol.
    Regina, I will check out your link. I'd forgotten that some Holy water fonts are empty during Lent. I just read a great passage by Pope Benedict on the importance of the sign of the cross as blessing over our loved ones. To me, the holy water adds to the blessing.
    Martianne, my Danika is pretty special. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Blessings to All!


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  10. Your daughter is incredibly wise. As are you! I love this reflection because I struggle so much with emptying myself - I tend to get caught up with just how to do it as opposed to just DOING it. Thank you for your words! God bless you!

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    1. Thank you Kim! Lent can be so freeing. When I subtract the distractions, I have more room for writing. Less selfishness, more contentment. Praying the Rosary really helps me focus on Jesus and less on myself. Funny how it helps me be a better version of myself, when I'm not thinking about myself, lol. A Hail Mary for you, too. :)

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  11. Hi Susan,
    I agree with Kim, your daughter is wise. You've done a wonderful job instilling the love for Jesus in her heart! It's easy to look around now and see the modern day Pharisee. We seem to repeat our mistakes all throughout history but then spiritual warfare is no different now than it was back then.

    I think if we didn't have a Lenten Season each year, we might fall prey to filling ourselves up with so much "stuff" that we'd push Jesus right out of the way. Our early Church Fathers were wise to dedicate these 40 days for the faithful, to keep us faithful!

    I noticed your beautiful cross on your header. Did you make/craft it? It's very beautiful!

    May God bless you and fill your family with His abundant love and blessings. May Our Blessed Mother wrap you in her loving mantle!

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    1. Thank you Noreen for your kindness. I agree, Lent comes around about the right time, after the new year and before Easter. It's so important for spiritual health.
      I grabbed the picture from Pinterest. I hope that is ok.

      Mary's Mantle over you too, Noreen. I will lift you up in a Hail Mary today. :) In Christ, Susan

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  12. This is such a good reflection. It is so true that we must empty ourselves so that HE can fill us . . .only to empty ourselves out again for others. So beautiful.

    So of my Lenten pratices are similiar to yours. I am wiriting a bit more too (at least trying). And I gave up Facebook and so happy I did!

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  13. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha - please do NOT take offense at my giggles, but I legit laughed almost the whole way through your blog!

    In addition to your ideas being absolutely stellar, your reflections and your matter-of-fact way of looking at things is just so on-point.

    A good reminder that we can give up little things while not attempting out-of-reach goals like giving up coffee at 6am. Ha! Thanks for this. Really! <3!

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  14. A big Thank YOU Gina. I like a sense of humor too. Let me share a Lenten failure: I did something kinda stupid yesterday. I fasted from after dinner Thursday evening to 5:00pm on just water. I ended up with an Excedrin headache and my husband putting me to bed with cheese pizza. Although I prayed, the recovery was almost selfish. I won't be doing that again. Maybe I'll cut it shorter, next time. Again, we are only as good as Jesus enables us.

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  15. My dad fasts once a week, just liquids. But his liquids of choice are coffee and beer. I always giggle! But seriously, once I'm out of this constantly pregnant and nursing phase I would like to learn to fast. It must be very freeing once you master it.

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    1. Kendra, I might try that! I hope we keep in touch. I know exactly where you are. I was there with my six about 10-15 years ago. I remember 4 (that's all we had at the time) with chicken pox while hubby was out of town. And of course it was snowing. God Bless. I'm following your blog.

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  16. I really like your idea of praying the rosary instead of listening to music; such a simple way to fit more prayer into the day. I could do that instead of watching mindless television too. When we fill our mind with media, we are not empty.

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  17. Thanks Elisa. I didn't think it was that original, but it is one practice that has been successful for Lent, you know, realistic and not too grandiose. It's true, we need to be empty to be full.

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  18. "I don't despise the small efforts that I know God will honor." - My favorite line from you post. We are to be like children, offering the Lord everything we have, even if it isn't perfect. Thank you for your reflection! Have a blessed Lent! ~Susan solesearchingmamma.com

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  19. Nice post, Susan...what a simple but profound reflection: EMPTY!
    I like the "EMPTY THE HOLY WATER FONT" reminder to get sprinkling and that we have to empty ourselves, approaching the altar with open, empty hands. There's a familiar quote of St Therese buzzing in my head...I think she was a fan of empty hands too.

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