Today is the last day of Lent and so this is my last official entry in the "TNEL" turnaround series. It's been interesting to do and I know I will enjoy looking back on the entries. A few thoughts come to mind at the end of this experience:
I think that something like this is best done because you really want to do it -- not out of a sense of duty or guilt. Often people who are discouraged or depressed are advised to count their blessings or write down things they are (or should be) thankful for. In one sense there's a good reason for that: discouragements can be the result of wrong or distorted thinking, and pondering the good things in our lives can help forge new pathways of thought. The down side, though, is that it can feel unnatural or forced rather than being a genuine response. So while I agree somewhat with the "count your blessings" admonition, I think it's important to remember that we have hearts as well as heads and shouldn't be forced or guilted into separating the two.
All that being said, this exercise has shown me that there are many, many things in our lives to be thankful for. I can't say I had any really earth-shattering or climactic moments during the last several weeks, but I did have an underlying sense of being blessed. I think that the whole point of the Lenten tradition of giving something up is to focus on the spiritual -- but that can often happen in ways that really do not appear very spiritual, like just being happy about the weather or your home or a brief encounter with a person. So while I can't say that I feel like a "more spiritual" person at the end of this, I do have a stronger sense that life is full of grace, and that you can become more aware of that just by reflecting on the simplest pleasures and joys.
"THANKS" for taking this journey with me. And have a joyful Easter, whether that involves enjoying chocolate and new spring clothes, or celebrating Jesus' Resurrection ... or all of the above! I think Easter is big enough to accommodate all of those things.