So far, this is proving to be a different and interesting Lent for me. As I said in an earlier post, I am abandoning my practice in recent years of studying the lectionary and doing a daily blog post on that. Instead, I am doing some focused reading, trying to improve my prayer life, and doing some volunteer work.
Yesterday, I started the volunteer work with a shift at the soup kitchen at Holy Family Parish in downtown Columbus. It was an interesting experience, somewhat different than I had anticipated.
One thing that made it different than my expectations was that they had PLENTY of volunteers. One of the area Catholic high schools had a group there, a college sorority had sent girls, and there were some confirmation students from a local Catholic elementary school. I didn’t serve food to anyone. Instead, I spent my time with a dishtowel in my hand, drying cookware and serving trays as they were emptied and then washed by another lady who had come from our church.
In some ways, I think that worked out very well. It’s hard to self-aggrandize as you’re drying dishes. There was no opportunity to pat myself on the back or feel better than I deserved to about what I was doing. I just kept drying things and putting them away.
About 200 guests were served lunch. The food was mostly donated by area restaurants, and while it certainly represented an interesting mish-mash of dishes, for the most part it looked appetizing. The guests ranged from looking like one’s stereotype of homeless street people to looking pretty much like me.
For my Lenten reading, I decided to start with Finding Grace at the Center -- The Beginning of Centering Prayer by M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating and Thomas E. Clarke. It is pretty interesting so far. It teaches a method of praying that is very similar to Transcendental Meditation and similar Eastern traditions, but is deeply founded in Catholic prayer tradition. I haven’t tried actually applying it yet. By the time I was home with the time to try it yesterday, I was pretty sure I’d fall asleep if I got into the relaxed state it requires. So I read some more, but have not yet actually tried it.
All in all, I continue to work on living in the present and finding the right balance of actively seeking work without allowing the pursuit to consume me. This was a good week. Let’s hope for more of those!