“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” — 1 Corinthians 3:16
My friend, Sr. Ann Gallagher (see November 1, 2010 post) would sometimes say, “It’s not about what we are not doing in Lent, but what we are doing.” In other words, Lent is not just about going without meat on Fridays. Rather, it is a time we can use to improve our personal “temples.”
I deeply appreciate Lent. Those of you who know me or have come to know me through my writings, are probably aware of how much I like to ponder over normal everyday occurrences. Things that many would describe as coincidences are often the instances I deem open for introspection. I probably could get a lot more accomplished in a day if I did not spend so much time thinking about it! However, I consider Lent to be a perfect time for pondering.
Although I believe St. Paul’s words year round, it is during Lent when I most often stop to think about them and then work to be a better “temple” as I prepare for the Easter celebration. In the Lenten season, I more often stop myself before making a negative comment or saying a bad word. I make more of an effort to be cheerful even while performing the most mundane of tasks. I take an extra minute or two each day to notice the beauty in my surroundings and the goodness in the people in my life. I think a great deal about Jesus’ suffering both in the desert and on the cross, and how all of my problems pale in comparison. Mostly, I work more fervently on projects of giving.
At mass on Sunday I was reminded of a story I once heard about Mother Teresa. She was visiting a place of historical significance and needed to use the restroom. When she returned to her hosts, she said, “The person who cleans the bathroom must really love Jesus!” Mother Teresa was in an environment of beautiful art and amazing architecture, but she took the time to notice the cleanliness of the bathroom. Her point was that those who truly love Jesus do their work really well and with joyful hearts no matter how seemingly menial the job. Mother Teresa noticed because Joy is contagious.
I thought about that story because I noticed the cantor at my church this week truly loves Jesus. Every time she speaks or sings, she is upbeat and excited. I’m talking 7:30 a.m. mass here, and she’s up on the altar with an exuberant, welcoming smile. She always puts me in a good mood because a smile is contagious.
Sr. Ann loved St. Patrick’s Day. As I’m a French girl married to a Polish guy, I never paid much attention to the day, until I got to know Sr. Ann and witnessed her excitement
about it. I’ll never forget seeing her proudly don her green wig! Sr. Ann got me excited about St. Patrick’s Day because excitement is contagious.
It is hard not to miss Sr. Ann everyday, but especially this time of year. All I can do, though, is to honor her and the other inspiring people in my life this Lenten season, with smiles, excitement and joy, even if I’m just cleaning the bathroom!
Quote of the Day: “I can’t be happy every day, but I can be cheerful!” — Beverly Sills