It was 18 February, when 40 days’ worth of challenges to be more generous in life stretched before me. Through the first couple of weeks, I awoke each day in anticipation as to what was likely to be shaping my day. Whatever else was going on around me, I found the motivation to take on the task and allowed it to penetrate into situations that I found myself in.
One month on, and I have felt the focus beginning to slip. This is public ‘note to self’.
Since Monday, I am supposed to have been giving away chocolate, paying attention to those who serve me, giving away hugs, engaging with someone outside of my normal circle of contacts and rolling my sleeves up to give practical help. Each of these has failed to engage me in any challenging way although if I was being technical about it, I could declare them achieved. After all, I bought a bar of chocolate – I even tried to give it to the young man on the street who I had given money to the week before – but he told me he didn’t like chocolate. Instead, it went to the barista at Costa who was shutting up shop as I walked by, which should have delighted me because that was surely paying attention to the server. She seemed pleased enough and said she would share it with her colleagues. Yes, I have made the effort to have conversations with those with whom I don’t normally pass the time of day, and I have even dished out a few hugs where I have been sure they would be welcomed. So, why the feeling that this has become more of a game than anything else?
Chocolate seems to be the sticking point for me this lent. Ironically so, since the classic sacrificial act of lent seems to be giving up chocolate. In addition to my second damp squib of a chocolate give away of this 40acts season, I was all set to go out one evening this week, with a great big box of chocolates that I had in the cupboard, when I realised that firstly, the box had gone out of date, and what is more, the very person who had given them to me in the first place was likely to be present at the gathering that evening. Perhaps not such a great idea after all!
I suppose this has me thinking about making sure that my generous acts are truly generous, and not superficially generous, and this is much harder. Harder to plan, harder to execute, and harder to make the sacrifice required. It demands a real focus on the person or cause that you are trying to make a difference to. It requires genuine love and it usually requires an ongoing commitment.
Experiencing the solar eclipse on Friday, my camera had a field day going in and out of focus as I tried to record the special effects of the occasion without damaging my eyes. It was difficult to capture the true ‘magic’ of the moment, but easy to capture an image that was unclear, unimpressive or just plain blank.
I don’t want my acts to be like the failed snaps. I intend to take the time to find a better focus on the challenges next week.