If I actually had milk and butter in my house, I would be eating pancakes for dinner tonight. However, it appears, at least looking in my fridge, that I have already given up grocery shopping for Lent. Truthfully, besides facetiously giving up everything I don’t have or like- this year, vaccum cleaners and salsa dancing- I am more interested in paying attention than in denial. Life is too fragile and too precious to lose even a moment.
I am also reflecting on what I wrote a couple of years ago, when I tried to give up insecurities:
When I started this blog four years ago, it was for the sole purpose of keeping people connected with what I was doing in Colombia. But then, I kept on writing. And writing. When all around me was chaos, organizing words on paper was a way to make sense of the nonsensical. Today, just as the women of Mampujan worked through their history by sewing, I keep reflecting on the coast, hoping to someday have written the whole thing out of my system. When I’m bored, I write. I pay attention to the world around me differently now, suddenly alert the hidden stories behind everything….Coming home from work today, I saw the same people, doing the same things they do every day: standing in line to pay the electricity bill, eating free ice cream samples by the dairy counter, walking their dogs, laughing together on a park bench and running across the street. The only difference was the thumbprint smudged cross of ashes on their foreheads, a visible reminder of the power of tradition in this place. For many, Ash Wednesday is a chance to pause and reflect on life and mortality as a priest recites “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” over each forehead.
In the same spirit of reflecting on life and learning to pay attention, I invite you to join me on my new Lent tradition. Last year, I documented the light. Using #40daysoflight, I photographed light everyday, using my phone. Just like with writing, my ways of seeing started to change. I was aware of the presence of the sun and the way light seemed to be everywhere, waiting behind every cloud and around the corner.
Instead of giving up something, I invited myself to notice.
This exercise seems more important this year. Within a world of climate change and crisis, where do we see the light? How does light find you? It could be in the peace process, a morning cup of coffee, a community meeting, a news story, a funny conversation, a realization that the world is doing better than we think, or simply the way the sun catches your eye from the window as you walk into your home at the end of a long day. We are going to practice paying attention, to the lovely and the lightful, in the midst of our ordinary lives.
You can post a photo, a drawing, a word, whatever. I´m going to be taking photos and sharing them primarily on my instagram. Feel free to follow along, or better yet, join in!