It’s not about me.

 

A friend of mine is working with a free-form Lenten discipline this year, in which she simply tries to be more mindful of the world around her, and do small, daily acts that make the world a better place.  Acts that she would prefer go unnoticed, for the most part, because it is, as she puts it, “not about me.” 

 

The sentiment is admirable, I think, and knowing her, the acts are likely to be loving and generous.  The push to mindfulness is one that we could all emulate, no matter the Lenten practice in which we have chosen to engage this year, should push us outside of the bubbles in which we all live: the bubbles of work, and family, and community.  As we pray this Lent, let it require the full participation of our imaginations, as we pray not only for those we know and love, but for the millions in the world without food, clean water, or medical care.  Let it be for the final member of one of the two species of Galapagos Tortoise, the species made nearly extinct because of human interference.  Let it be for the families of any of the thousand victims of gun violence in this country so far this year.  Let the words of our prayers, let the actions of our hands speak for us, saying, “it’s not about me.”

 

And then let us recognize that, if it’s not about me, it’s certainly about us, and that the relationships formed in prayer and service must, necessarily, have an impact in our own hearts.  The act of looking beyond ourselves, beyond the safe and familiar, will leave us changed. 

A prayer by Rev. Kate Braestrup asks for a heart of glass; for as the glassblower works, the glass both expands and becomes more fragile, more transparent, more easily broken.  Our mindfulness of the surrounding world, of the joy and suffering even of those whom we will never see, will both stretch us to a love far beyond ourselves, and push us to far greater fragility.  Our hearts will expand, our hearts will break, our hearts will expand again. 

 So while our Lenten prayers and practices begin with, “it’s not about me”, let them end with this: “Wow.  Thank you.  Amen.”

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