Thursday, February 23, 2012

A change of heart

As a writer, I suppose I have a few favorites among all the words there are to choose from. You may have even noticed some of them if you read my columns a lot more closely than most people--including me. Usually, I "adopt" a word because either I like the way it sounds or I like what it means. Sometimes, I like both both, which makes it even more special.
Here's one now:
Don't feel bad if it's not one you're entirely familiar with, as it's a trifle obscure in some circles. It's of Greek origin, and claims several, slightly differing meanings, including repentance, changing one's mind, and a sense of spiritual conversion.
But here's my favorite meaning of all:
A change of heart.
That change is on my mind right now because yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and it is now the season of Lent, the 40-day period that leads us up to the celebration of life, joy and miraculous resurrection we call Easter.
For many, it's a time to simply give things up. My determined spouse, for instance, turns her back on a plethora of snack foods, like cookies, cake, candy, crackers, chips and chocolate, which makes me wonder how, in the evolution of our language, the names of so many good things happen to all begin with the letter "c." For other folks, it's a time to make a yearly run at giving up more serious vices, like smoking and alcohol. And for me, it's usually a time to try--among other things--to ignore my seemingly unquenchable personal lust for all things chocolate, a fact that manufacturers like Hershey's, Mars and Fanny May should pay attention to when making their yearly sales projections.
But here's the thing,
While a few weeks without bon-bons and Bud Light are certainly worthwhile for anyone, there are even more important things we can give up, and add, too.
Lent is truly a time for us to examine our attitudes, our habits and the priorities we set. And while my context may seem and sound strictly spiritual, we don’t have to be religious to believe in the need for conversion and change. We only need to see the value of being better.
We can sacrifice impatience and distrust, and add compassion and understanding.
We can give up on our grudges and try forgiveness.
We can trade pessimism for hope; cynicism for wide-eyed belief.
While we're at it, let’s turn our backs on war, and pray for peace.
And what say we give up hatred and add love to our lives and all the lives around us.
Metanoia. A change of heart.
It sounds simple.
Maybe, just maybe, It can be.

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