Parishioner Interview: Julia Alberino
March 7, 2017 § 1 Comment
One of the choices given to us bloggers is to offer a “Parishioner Interview or Reflection.” In past years, I have alternated between interview and reflection. This year, I’m attracted to one of the interview question possibilities: “What is your favorite Lenten practice and why?” For many years, I have chosen a mixture of practices during Lent, seeking to balance “giving up” with “giving out.” In recent years, the “giving out” side has become more predominant for me. Last year, when I wrote here about thinking of Lent as being about Love, the “giving out” aspect was one thing that made that paradigm shift possible.
This year, I have added a new practice to my mix, courtesy of a suggestion from my long-time friend Ronald. Though I doubt any of the blog readers actually know Ronald, and I got his permission to write about this particular practice with credit to him for the idea, I am limiting myself to first name only for privacy. The practice in question is simple, can easily be combined with whatever else you’re doing to observe Lent, and has many permutations, limited only by the limits of your imagination. Ronald worded his challenge to his friends this way: “Instead of giving up something for Lent, do something for someone. It could be making a donation to a charity, or volunteering, or maybe spending more time with an elderly relative or neighbor.” Ronald’s own example of what he did last year was to put aside $2.00/day during Lent, and at the end of Lent use the money to buy socks for a homeless shelter in his area to distribute to its guests. The shelter director had told him that for that shelter, a priority donation other than money was socks. I’ve since read several articles in which other shelters report the same need. That’s just one example of how this practice can work.
This is how I’m doing the practice this year. I am putting daily money aside, and will reflect during Lent on where and how to best deploy the donation at the end of Lent. I’m leaning toward a struggling local not-for-profit that provides food and services to the homeless in my increasingly gentrifying neighborhood. It’s symbolic for me to put the money aside each day, not just in weekly chunks, so that I reflect each day on the needs of so many, sort of like the old mite box tradition that some may remember from childhood. In this year in which there are so many competing needs at every level, taking time each morning to think beyond myself seems particularly relevant to the idea of Lent as being related to love, and to Lent as a time of penance and sacrifice in memory of Jesus’s sacrifice and subsequent resurrection.
If you feel moved to do so, choose your own option for giving out during Lent, either instead of or in addition to giving up. Think of “giving out” as spreading a bit of sorely needed kindness in the world.
– Julia Alberino