Lent as a carrot (and not just a stick)
I posted this video to the blog facebook page today, talking about sleep--and why we choose as adults, over and over, to not get enough of it.
I had been praying the last few days for a personal Lenten requirement that felt right, something that targeted an out-of-balance part of my life, and righted it. Something that imposed a "pinch" (to quote Colleen!), but a needed pinch.
Fr. Schmitz outlines in the video (watch it! It's a scant 7 minutes long!) that as kids, we had adults do two very important things for us:
1. tell us when and what to eat
2. put us to bed.
Adults. We're notoriously bad at doing both--see example here of my family essentially having to re-learn what to eat.
But he goes deeper into it. Going to bed is an acknowledgment that today is done--and when I wake up, I wake up to a new day of work. Of stress and chores. Of frustrations. If I can just hold on to a few more minutes tonight, if I can just stretch the luxury of tonight out a little bit longer, with its lack of obligations... I postpone the work of tomorrow.
Going to bed, he says, is an act of faith. It's placing all my dread of what tomorrow will bring into God's hands.
I'm in a little golden phase (and praying it stays this way for a tiny bit longer) of all my kids sleeping, and sleeping more or less soundly, for about nine or ten hours straight, with the baby waking at least once, and the toddler waking every other night with a bad dream. Just a month ago, it wasn't like this. It was a bedtime battle with the baby, hours of weird night terrors for the toddler, and everyone being sick with colds. I would get up with a little one, settle them down, and then resentfully head back to bed and pick up my phone out of sheer stupid defiance of sleep. "It's not like I'm going to be here for long," I'd think, climbing back into bed for the ninth time in an hour.
Gah. Bad times. But now that that phase has passed, I found myself on my phone STILL in the wee hours, somehow justifying it by telling myself I was relishing the fact that I was in bed, undisturbed.
With the approach of Lent, I almost fell into the trap of picking a penance for penance's sake--maybe I'll make the kids give up TV (which is my quiet time)! Maybe I'll make myself wash the floors every night! (ugh.) Maybe I'll give up music... maybe?
None of those felt right--because they were sticks for the sake of sticks. Watching that little reflection on sleep made it click for me. Lent and the penance we choose can be as inconvenient AND as beneficial as we make it. Penance can be a carrot.
Every night, for 40 nights. Lights out at 9:30pm. My head on the pillow. No glowing screen. Boom.