I was raised as an Irish-Italian Catholic – I was baptized and confirmed, had a communion and went to weekly religion classes. My family didn’t go to Sunday mass but I don’t believe you have to in order to be religious. The times I’ve prayed are few and far between. I rarely step into churches unless it’s a wedding, special event or I’m sight-seeing. I actually love cathedrals, temples, churches and the like. I think architecturally they are beautiful and they represent a place where people can seek comfort, find faith and receive guidance without judgment (in an ideal world, that is). I find myself oddly interested in the idea and stories behind Saints.
But I would never consider myself a religious person. I don’t feel compelled to get married in a church, except maybe for the aesthetics. I’m not entirely sure what I’d raise my children as, depending on who I marry and their views/beliefs. I understand why people look towards organized religion and why others are against it. I find myself somewhere in the middle, not sure which way to lean. The underlying values, beliefs and morals are there. Be a good person. Treat others kindly. Judge less, tolerate more. Exude love and compassion. Add more value into this world than you take. I’d call myself spiritual in a heartbeat. I have faith. Faith that we were all brought into this world with a purpose. And there’s a plan for us that helps explain both the good and more importantly, the bad. Is that plan governed by a higher God (whichever God you want)? Maybe? Maybe not.
I tend to run in circles with my thoughts on all of this but every year, I’ve observed Lent and for the 40 days before Easter, I’ve given up something I genuinely enjoy. I think a small part of the reason is based in my religious background and the meaning behind it but another has always been a test of willpower. I’ve given up things like chocolate, popcorn, soda, gum and gluten (ha). Some of those were designed to break bad habits or make me feel a bit better health wise. None of them were particularly challenging, except maybe the chocolate ;)
While I was thinking about what I’d give up this year for Lent, one of my best friends from high school, Sarah, sent me a link to a challenge called 40 Acts: Do Lent Generously. The idea is pretty simple: instead of giving up something, why don’t we add more into our lives; give more to ourselves and to those around us. I loved the concept and figured why not jump on-board for 40 days of lent, reflections and generosity.
Here’s a preview of the first week:
Day 1: Start a journal
Day 2: Create a generosity jar
Day 3: Tool up
Day 4: Connect
Day 5: An attitude of gratitude
Day 6: Reach
Day 7: Redial
Here’s to “40 days of giving back, doing good and living generously.” And thanks Sar, for thinking of me and sending it my way :)