Busted Halo

Our writers invite you along on their journeys through Lent. Follow the play-by-play of their personal spiritual practices and share your own.

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March 12th, 2014
Saying "No" to Snacks, Soda, and Sweets this Lent

DinnerIn the past week, giving up soda, snacks, and sugary treats has proven quite the challenge already. The most difficult part so far, though, hasn’t been what you’d expect. It hasn’t been choosing something else to drink or putting aside dessert or anything like that; no, the trickiest part of my Lent so far has been trying to figure out how to stop cheating on the self-imposed “no snacks” rule.

You see, it’s pretty easy to loophole a rule when you make it yourself, so there’s been plenty of “these chips are part of my lunch” or “well, I woke up late, so I can call this my breakfast even though it’s lunch, and still eat 2 ‘meals’ later.” Clearly, I need to define my terms a bit better.

So that’s what I’m doing today. and really, what I should have done about a week ago when Lent started: I’m defining dinner (and also those other two meals that don’t fit as alliteratively well with “defining.”) From here on out, my meals are going to look like the picture that accompanies this. Okay, so maybe they won’t all look quite like that (I wish!), but what I mean is they’re …

March 12th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Birthday CakeAs I mentioned earlier, this is my second time giving up Facebook for Lent. The first time, it was to prove to myself that I could do it (at all), and this time, I’ve decided to ask deeper questions. One moment that helped me to realize that my work with giving up Facebook was not done happened a few weeks ago, when a met a friend for dinner before class.

We met in the campus food court, and we had a lovely conversation about everything that was going on in our lives, where we hoped to go in the future, and other various topics. I hadn’t seen her for a while, and upon realizing that we both have the same dinner hour, we hugged, parted ways, and promised to get together for dinner again soon.

That night, I got back to my room and went on Facebook. Much to my surprise, there, in the right hand column of my screen, was a notification that today had been her birthday. I was so surprised. I had just seen her hours before. I wrote happy birthday on her wall and sheepishly apologized for spending a good hour or so with her without …

March 11th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

chris-envelopeToday’s card is for my husband, Chris. We were away at a wedding in Florida over the weekend where a lot of things were in bloom. Chris noticed one tree in particular and commented on the new buds and leaves of spring.

So, when I finished my handwritten note to him, I sketched a tree with green buds and tiny leaves on the back of the envelope.

Chris said he could identify with the tree. He’s just finished a master’s degree in geographic information science or GIS. For those of you who don’t know what that means (FYI — that would have been me a few years ago), GIS is basically digital mapping and geospatial analysis. In short, he’s a digital cartographer.

And he’s someone with a new degree looking for work and hoping that after a long winter of sorts, springtime (and a new job) will arrive. The “winter” hasn’t been easy — there’s the responsibility of school and a few part-time jobs. And then you have the hours spent writing and refining a resume and cover letters. Next — the waiting and waiting and waiting for the phone to ring or the invitation to an interview to arrive …

March 11th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence

Serenity's drawing

Serenity’s drawing

I am beginning to see a recurring theme in my Lenten meditations and reflections: interruption.

Steve pounding on the door could be seen as an interruption. So could a friend arriving at my home and calling my name as I prepared to begin my meditation yesterday.

Disturbances of the peace have happened in a number of small ways. As I indicated in a previous post, I do not take kindly to intrusion. In the past, I have been “that guy” who sends rude social cues to express a desire to leave a conversation I did not want to enter in the first place. Watch out if someone tries to talk to me while I am trying to read, even if I am in a public place where conversing is part and parcel of the territory.

The more I think about it, the more I see how self-centered a way this is of seeing the world and my role in it, as though the most pressing priority for everyone in my vicinity should be to adhere to my very specific and totally subjective rules about proper social etiquette.

What this Lent and some of the disruptions that have come …

March 10th, 2014
Lenten Gratitude: 5x40

If Then ticketSo, this gratitude stuff is sometimes easy. Sometimes, not so much. Last Friday, I got a really frustrating call from my apartment management company basically saying that they would not be willing to compromise on a contractual issue that I had raised with them. This means that I’m going to have to spend more out of pocket than I had accounted for. FRUSTRATING. And, instead of coming up with SOME sort of counter proposal, or thinking about the mutually beneficial ideas I came up with, they simply said no and told me where to send my check. Specifically, they chose to be complete unyielding jerks which will now necessitate that I have to either fork over money that I hadn’t planned for or get a lawyer to address the situation. Happy Lent to me!

As you can likely tell, I was really angry about the whole situation. So much so, that I stormed out of work at the end of my day to meet a friend. I fumed as I took the subway down to Soho… And, it took me a LONG time to settle down, once I sat to down to dinner. I just kept complaining – How could …

March 10th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Lights. Casinos. Sunshine. More lights. More casinos. More sunshine. I must be in Las Vegas.

vegasLest readers of Busted Halo® think that the editor in chief is always on vacation, I’m actually here for work. There’s a meeting of the Paulist Fathers happening this week in Las Vegas. Don’t know who the Paulist Fathers are? Well, they are an order of Catholic priests who more than 10 years ago had the good foresight to start a ministry for young adults that would become Busted Halo®. If you are a fan of Busted Halo®, you should be a fan of the Paulists. The Paulists are in ministry in parishes and campus ministries across the country. If there’s a Paulist parish in your neighborhood — or you come across one while traveling — check it out!

So, when on the road and doing a Lenten challenge to send 40 notes to 40 people in 40 days, you send postcards!

Today – a postcard to my mom who lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, not far from where I grew up. She is definitely going to be jealous that I’m enjoying the sunshine and she has snow in the forecast.

P.S. — Yesterday’s note …

March 9th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence

Metra

The renowned Jesuit priest Father James Martin, S.J. once said, “[T]here’s no best, or only way to pray. Whatever works best for you-imagining yourself with God, quietly meditating on a favorite Scripture passage, or reciting an old prayer that comforts you-is what’s best for you.”

Discovering the “best way” to pray tends to involve finding the right environment for prayer. Inside or outdoors? Alone or with others? Speaking out loud or keeping silent?

The possibilities are infinite. I entered this year’s Lent with the assumption that silent meditation in a quiet room is the best scenario for me to find some degree of inner peace. Perhaps it is better to say this is the type of prayer to which I feel called at this point in my life.

Though we are still only a few days into Lent, I have already found myself forced to adapt these expectations to meet sometimes unforeseen circumstances.

Over the weekend, I made a quick trip to Chicago to visit a friend with whom I volunteered in Peru. I needed to leave my home at 7:30 in the morning to catch a train. Being a Saturday and all, my desire for another cycle of REM …

March 9th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

Anyone who’s on Facebook long enough soon realizes a trend. Yes, “what’s trending” but also a trend in the content of a newsfeed, for instance. It’s almost all good. It’s funny, it’s exclamatory, it’s sentimental, or perhaps even just neutral. Whatever it may be, it’s rarely ever bad. If it is bad, it’s somewhat risky. Yes, there’s an element of vulnerability in telling someone (or everyone) your bad news, but there is added vulnerability, here. Those who share bad news on Facebook can either find support or sympathy or sometimes judgment: “he shares too much,” “she’s being a Debbie Downer,” or “that was too much information.” Sure, some people have these same judgments toward someone who shares that same information in everyday life, but the judgment seems to be heightened particularly on Facebook. Why? It’s as if we’ve all subscribed to some unspoken rule that all must seem good, all must seem well. Perhaps this idea of projecting “the perfect life” isn’t entirely new, it just has a new face(book). The neat suburban home with the pristine yard and all the trimmings of a typical life can mask some uncomfortable realities, for instance.

Since I’ve gotten off Facebook, life is …

March 8th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

mandi-wedding-inviteIt’s a Saturday in 2014. So that means I must be going to a wedding. We’re invited to six (at this point) weddings this year!

Today is the first — the wedding of my good friend Mandi. BONUS — It’s been a dreadful, cold, and snowy winter in the Northeast, and Mandi is getting married in FLORIDA! Let’s get this party started.

I’ve known Mandi for almost 13 years. We met after college when we were both part of a young adult volunteer/service-learning program.

(Quick aside — If you are a junior or senior in college and don’t know what you want to do after graduation, look into some type of full-time volunteer program. Check out JVC and the Catholic Volunteer Network for ideas. Here’s a link to the program I was a part of. You won’t regret it.)

Mandi is from Alabama and served in Salt Lake City at a food pantry and advocacy organization. I’m from Pennsylvania and served at a nonprofit child care/community center in Jackson, Mississippi. We met at volunteer training in Atlanta, became friends there, and kept in touch from our different assignments. Mandi had insights into living in the South that a Yankee like …

March 8th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence

Door

 

If the title of this blog post made you think of the African American spiritual, click here. If it reminded you of the Paul McCartney and Wings classic, click here. And if I’m an idiot for wasting your time with this stuff, click here.

Now, on to Lent.

My  practice of spending 10-15 minutes a day in intentional silence has begun swimmingly enough, which is really to say I have not missed any of Lent’s three days. God must be overwhelmed by my heroic efforts.

So far, I have done  all my meditations in my bedroom. I live on the first floor of a beautiful house in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. The building is more than 100 years old and has many fine qualities. Thick, sound-proof walls is not one of them.

A few minutes into my Ash Wednesday meditation, as I sat cross-legged on my bed and wondered when my 10 minutes would be up, I was startled by a noise next door. It was the unmistakable sound of someone using unnecessary strength to pound on a door.

“STEVE!” a voice bellowed. “HEY, STEVE!”

‘Hey back at you, jackass,’ I thought. ‘Why don’t you give Steve …

March 7th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Darlene and Rob

Darlene and Rob

Thank you to my friends Darlene and Rob for hosting this year’s Oscar/Rob-scars party. We made homemade pizza (fitting since Ellen ordered pizza for everyone at the actual Oscars) and brought our favorite movie candy to build a popcorn and candy dessert bar. Yes, it was a good as it sounds.

You might be wondering, what are the Rob-scars? Rob laments every year that his favorite movies aren’t necessarily the same as the Academy’s picks. (Who ever heard of Mr. Hublot, anyway?) So, this year he nominated films for the Rob-scars. A la the People’s Choice Awards, the guests voted for the winners.

In my circle of friends, the Oscar party tradition began several years ago with an impromptu gathering at my old apartment. Joanne, a friend from out of town, was staying in the city that weekend and wanted to watch the Oscars. She had us fill out ballots and brought special prizes for each category. Joanne had a spreadsheet and special formula to determine the winner in the case of a tie. On her way to the party she bought a trophy from a man selling random items on street for the grand prize.…

March 7th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

hospitalMy generation is one of the last, if not the last, to remember regularly using a landline. When the phone rang at my house, someone picked it up, and the rest of the family was usually in ear shot of the entire conversation. There was only so far you could go, literally. When someone called us, I could tell by the tone of my mom’s voice whether it was good news or bad news. When it was bad news, I remember pretending not to listen, but in reality, hanging on every word. If it was bad news, unless the person could come over, he or she always called.

Nowadays, the land of landlines is long gone. I’m going to have to explain them to my kids, along with the concept of a family sharing a phone, not a minutes and data plan. With the changing technology, how we communicate our good news and bad news has changed, too.

On day one of my Facebook fast, I got a text from my boyfriend that essentially said I know you gave up Facebook for Lent, but just so you know, so-and-so had to go to the hospital last night. Here I was, …

March 6th, 2014
Lenten Gratitude: 5x40

Flowers

1. Surprise flowers at the end of a VERY long, hard week. My life is incredibly crazed right now with some upcoming transition and cool opportunities. This sweet gift literally reminded me to take a moment to stop and smell the roses. #blessed

2. For a bible quote that helped me to prevail today in remembering NOT to eat the foods from which I am fasting : “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  It’s from the gospel reading that we will hear this Sunday, where Jesus has to thwart the efforts of the devil’s temptations. Reminds me that what I’m doing is nothing compared to that — if Jesus could fast for as long as he did…with the devil tempting him while he did it. The LEAST I can do is fast from a little dessert. :)

3. WhatsApp has to be one of the coolest apps ever. It allows me to easily be in daily touch with my friends in Europe, hear funny audio clips from my cousins in India and make plans for this weekend with a friend visiting from Mexico.

4. For candy eggs — …

March 6th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

Mary Beth (second from left) and her three children. (Photo credit: Nylagray Photography)

Mary Beth (second from left) and her three children. (Photo credit: Nylagray Photography)

Thank you.

Two words that we say often, and yet, maybe not enough. When someone holds a door or hands you your change in the grocery store. Thank you for that gift, smile, compliment.

My husband and I wrote a lot (A LOT!) of thank you notes around the time of our wedding in 2012. I haven’t written many since.

So, today (and tomorrow) — thank you notes. Today: Thank you, Mary Beth. Last week my good friend Mary Beth invited me to a party at her apartment to celebrate one of her good friends, Angelique. Angelique is a kind and passionate person. She runs the after school program at a public middle school in New York City. The principal from her school and a friend who is a jazz singer serenaded Angelique at the party. I’ve spent time getting to know Angelique at other Mary Beth parties and also at the after school program when I substituted for Mary Beth who was teaching a creative writing class.

The party reminded me just how important it is to say “thank you” to the amazing people in our …

March 5th, 2014
40 Days Searching for the Sound of Silence
The Lenten candle, on fire and in action.

The Lenten candle, on fire and in action.

Ah, Lent. At no time of year is the discrepancy between my ambition and ability more evident.

In years past, I have generally seen Lent as an opportunity to accomplish personal goals and address shortcomings. Tired of eating so much chocolate? Give it up for Lent. Want to write an epic one-man musical about the life of Theodore Roosevelt? Set up a strict schedule, and do it for Lent.

In years when I was feeling particularly industrious, I even came up with two or  three Lenten practices! Inevitably, I failed and probably did so for a number of reasons. Some of my Lenten ideas were dumb, e.g. the Teddy Roosevelt musical. Others were overly-zealous, e.g. the Teddy Roosevelt musical. Others had nothing to do with the real meaning of Lent, e.g. the Teddy Roosevelt musical and virtually all the rest.

What is the real meaning of Lent, then?

I suspect it is largely about conscientiously examining our spiritual and everyday lives and exploring behaviors we might adopt or turn from that will ultimately bring us closer to God.

This is not to say my past Lenten goals could not have feasibly led …

March 5th, 2014
Lenten Gratitude: 5x40

People wait in line for ashes at St. Patrick's Cathedral - NYC

People wait in line for ashes at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – NYC

Here we go — 5 things for which I’m grateful on this Ash Wednesday:…

Love seeing how many Catholics are in NYC! So many people that think NYC is a faithless place.  That’s definitely not true of the city and about the people who live here. I’ve included a picture to prove it–attached is a quick shot of the LONG line of people waiting to get ashes at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  As you can see, the line for ashes today extended from inside the cathedral, all the way out the door, and down 5th Avenue outside.  Despite all of the scaffolding and restoration, it’s another record Ash Weds crowd this year at the Cathedral, where ashes are distributed all day long.  This is true faith in action!
The instant fellowship you share when you see someone with ashes.  On this day, we all wear a visible sign of our faith.  And, it’s certainly empowering to see ashy foreheads in places and on people you never expected – on the bus, on a neighbor’s forehead, at a business meeting, or online: #showusyourash  I learned all about the concept of

March 5th, 2014
Saying "No" to Snacks, Soda, and Sweets this Lent

day-1-candyFor Lent this year, I’m cutting snacks, soda, and sweets in general out of my diet. What that means for me is not just refraining from eating sugary foods and drinking soda, but also from eating pretty much anything other than just my three meals a day.

But why do this? Well, it basically all comes down to the idea of fasting. Overall, we fast as a way to give back to God and as an act of solidarity with those who may not have access to the luxuries that we have. Additionally, we sacrifice for Lent to try to move away from the things that have turned us away from God in one way or another in our lives, and to try to get back on track.

It is in light of those two concepts that I chose to give up snacks, soda, and sweets for Lent this year. I feel like taking part in this particular form of fasting and sacrifice will help me to change some of my more detrimental habits, particularly in regard to unhealthy eating. By restricting what I eat, I hope to not only move toward self-improvement by trying to cut out sugary …

March 5th, 2014
Lenten Facebook Fast

I should start by admitting that this is not the first time I’ve given up Facebook for Lent. Note: this won’t be a blog about how hard it is to give up Facebook for the first time. This time around, I didn’t choose to do it to simply see if I could do it at all. I didn’t choose to do it because I was uninspired about what to give up for Lent this year and felt the need to hit replay (e.g., “I guess I’ll give up chocolate again this year.”).  This time, it’s for deeper reasons.

Facebook is a huge part of my life. It occupies my early morning hours before I leave for the day, waiting for the bus, riding the bus, waiting in line, taking a mental reprieve from lecture in class, killing time before dinner, and powering down in the last few minutes before going to sleep. The first time I was introduced to giving up Facebook for Lent was from a friend’s Facebook wall post that she was doing it. I thought, certainly, I can’t do that. The next year, I gave it up. However, I looked at it kind of like giving up …

March 5th, 2014
40 notes to 40 people in 40 days

DAY-1-ANOTHER-OPTIONThis Lent I’ve decided to take on a challenge that speaks to my desire to be in better connection with others — in ways that are a bit more meaningful and tangible than texts and Facebook messages. I’m going to send 40 handwritten notes to 40 people in 40 days.

I write three pages every morning. (OK, almost every morning.) And when I say, “write,” I mean longhand, actual writing, pen-and-paper writing. I usually write in a journal, but I’ve been known to write on the margins of magazine pages, and even an actual calendar, when I still had one that wasn’t on my mobile phone.

That, in part, fuels my interest in writing handwritten notes to people — and going “analog” in a digital world. So, it’s back to the basics: a simple card and a pen. I have stamps, greeting cards, postcards, stationery, and even Sushi-nery (photos will follow later in Lent).

My first card is a “get well” wish for Frances Helen, a member of my church. I actually met Frances Helen the first Sunday I visited the church in August 2003. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. You walk into a church, don’t know anyone, and …

March 3rd, 2014
Lenten Gratitude: 5x40

“Gratitude-Pg-4” image by marynbtol licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 2.0” http://www.flickr.com/photos/marynbtol/

“Gratitude-Pg-4” image by marynbtol licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 2.0” http://www.flickr.com/photos/marynbtol/

I always struggle to find a Lenten offering. Sometimes I give up food/drink — adult beverages, chocolate, cheese, meat, sweets, and more. Sometimes I add something to my daily routine: exercise, volunteering with a charity, daily mass, etc.

These are all great things, however, I’m changing up my usual offering for something a little more reflective. As a woman of faith, I often forget the grace that prevails in the day-to-day. Instead, I fixate on the annoying things: The mean-spirited quip someone made about me behind my back (that, of course, I totally found out about), the dirty rainwater from the street that a cab has splashed all over me as I’m at an intersection, the guy that has stopped texting or calling me for absolutely no reason, having to schlep multiple many blocks … in heels … with groceries (because I’m out of milk and I had to work late), not being included when the team goes out to lunch and so much more.

Whenever these sorts of things happen, I’ll usually vent about it to a friend, eat my feelings (aka chocolate) and end my day …

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