My Ash Wednesday with Shakira

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Clicking away at this column for the umpteenth time – kids have been sick on and off for a week; the only opening at the doctor’s office today is smack in the middle of nap time; I’m starting my own Lenten fast off with DayQuil – and Shakira has come to my rescue!

Yes, I said Shakira. Taking temperatures and pouring cough medicine while our oldest was getting ready for school, I was uplifted for a moment by a catchy song from his playlist coming through the Bluetooth speaker in the kitchen.

“Don’t beat yourself up, Don’t need to run so fast, Sometimes we come last but we did our best…
“I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, Till I reach the end, And then I’ll start again…”

I had to ask Alexa what the song was – “Try Everything” by Shakira. Once there was a lull in the coughing, one kid was sleeping and the other two were watching a cartoon (yes, we use cartoons as babysitters here…), I looked up the song.

We haven’t seen Zootopia and the animated video on YouTube did not motivate me to run and rent it – I’d prefer to keep my girls’ interest in ballet over a sensuous llama shaking her hips… I digress, or rather am distracted as is so often the case in a house with young kids, and pets (they can be just as needy sometimes).

However, the song was just what I needed in a weak moment and its message seemed very appropriate as I began my Ash Wednesday and Lent, smack in the middle of the Olympics.

We haven’t had cable for years, but I’ve appreciated the extra Hulu subscription we got to watch the winter games. And with sick kids needing rest and wanting to snuggle, we’ve watched more than our usual share.

Goal setting, making a plan of action, hard work, discipline and self-denial, perseverance and starting over and over again – these are common themes of the song, of Lent and the Olympics.

The song doesn’t point to the motivational source or support needed to get up again, and again. But in every Olympic event I’ve been struck by the constant and unfailing presence of coaches and supportive family and friends.

I know I don’t have the inner strength to get myself up again after falling, the motivation to keep the goal in sight when discouragement sets in or the energy to push forward through exhaustion.

Coaches and mentors encourage us, discipline us, motivate and know how to muster up every ounce of stamina… Supporters know how to validate our struggles while re-directing our eyes to the prize.

I might not reach Easter with a gold medal (will gold foil eggs count?); but I do want to accompany Christ through Holy Week knowing I did my best. And so, I’ll be starting Lent looking for good coaches and support.

Our best supporters are usually close at hand, but how do we look for good coach candidates?

The saints and respected, relatable spiritual authors. Friends and family that can cheer us on and help us see ourselves and situations from a new angle, with new tips and tricks for success. Our priests, deacons, sisters and others who spiritually guide us. The sacraments which nourish us with always needed grace.

And my favorites, Mary and the Holy Spirit. Christ became incarnate through the Holy Spirit’s action in Mary – and allowing Christ to grow in me is certainly my goal this Lent.

And for what it’s worth, I’ll let Shakira keep reminding me not to give up, not to give in until I try everything…till I reach the end, and then I’ll start again.

Until it reminds me of the laundry I haven’t started…and the dirty dishes still in the sink. Maybe I should look for my inspiration from the “saint of the day” next time…

Together on the journey, Jenny

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