Prayer for Ash Wednesday

Oh Lord, who hast mercy upon all,
take away from me my sins and kindle in me
the fire of thy Holy Spirit.

Create and make in us new hearts.

(From the Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan and the Anglican Collect)


Gratitude: Not Grousing

My motto for this season of Lent. I’m fasting something, as I usually do, but this year I also want to be disciplined about adding something to life. It’s so easy for me to complain about my finicky car (whose latest trick was to lose its oil cap 90 miles from home), my distance from loved ones (between 300 and 400 miles), and the amount of school work I have to do (three papers and two presentations in two weeks). (See, I told you it was easy.) And I don’t want to dismiss or ignore the parts of life that are difficult. But I do want to recognize what is good about life, and there is plenty. From just this weekend, I am grateful for all of the big things that seem cliché but are the most important parts of life:

Oh Mom...

1.) Family. My mom and grandparents are so wonderful and are always ready to assist me with whatever I need, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Honestly, their generosity is astounding and it’s hard to keep myself from being simply overwhelmed by their love.

K.C. and me in beautiful Western NY on a summer gallivant.

2.) Friends. Of all sorts and varieties. On the drive back to school yesterday I caught myself complaining (yes, out loud to myself) about how unfair it is that we’re all scattered. I had to check myself by remembering the privilege of attending the birthday party of one now-twenty-three L.J. in Buffalo this weekend and was so thrilled to share in the festivities and conversation that surrounded her day. I also had the chance to eat and talk and pray and laugh and watch movies with the wonderful K.C., who I’d adopt as a sister if there was a way to do it. And then there was the time with M.L., who holds the unique place of much-loved boyfriend in my life. Seriously, time with each of these people was so refreshing; it seems so wretched to complain about not having more time with them instead of being grateful for a whole weekend full of dear people.

Oh yes. Whistles and nudges are appropriate. We're this cute.

3.) A car that runs and traffic jams that end. My housemate rightfully refers good old Hermes as a “death bucket” sometimes. He has a special knack for breaking down and just not handling the longer trips well. But yesterday, I didn’t run out of gas in the middle of stop and go traffic on Route 80, the brakes worked the whole time, I didn’t get run over by an 18-wheeler, and the stop only added twenty-five minutes to my trip. That’s a mundane miracle, if I may use the word so loosely, if ever there was one.

The trusty steed.

4.) For work to do. I get paid to read books, write papers, and talk about things I love. And I still complain? Honestly…

Et tu? What are you grateful for? Or grousing about? Both are valid, I’m just working on a balance during this season of life.