Jenny Bienemann: ‘TIS THE SEASON TO GIVE – give something up, that is
I have given up so many things, so many ways, so many times.
You learn a lot when you let go. That’s why it is important that we as a society dedicate times, like Lent, when we all let go, together.
But the whiplash can be hard to handle. Whatever you let go was probably there because, even if it was painful, it was comforting. And most days, who couldn't use a little more comfort.
I grew up Catholic. I loved Lent, a season where something good is just around the corner. Spring is coming! Then Summer! Let's just get through this, and then life will be GREAT! It gave a momentum to taking a break from things I wasn’t supposed to be doing so much of anyway. Not eating dessert for Lent? SURE! Not swearing for Lent? NO PROBLEM!
Or how about this twist on the old Lenten classic: adding something.
One year, when my kids were little, we made peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies for the homeless who came to the rectory of our church before school, each weekday of Lent. Only at the end of Lent did the kindly priest let us know that he and his staff had enjoyed our offerings, themselves.
I think I was in love with the idea that there could be simple, straightforward steps to follow that would inexorably lead to being “good.” Finally, irrevocably, I would be good. Good, forever.
So imagine what it felt like to realize (over and over again) if you wanted to be “good,” you had to keep doing those things, or not doing those things…forever. Forgoing dessert forever? Eschewing swear words? Not possible, and not productive. In that order. We need passion in our lives!
But now, if you go ahead and do those things, being true to the moment rather than true to your pre-conceived notions of "good," what happens?
Whiplash. You’re good, then not good. Good, then not so good.
I chased that desire to be "good" deep into the middle of my life. Tried really hard. As a daughter, sister, wife, mom, employee, friend. As an artist. With my appearance. You name it. The ever-elusive validation of finally, irrevocably, being good. And the whiplash of being good for a little while, then…not so good, is the legacy of that effort.
Am I past all that? Are you? Are we ever? How could we be?
Instead of trying to be good, now, I am trying to get good. Good at being. Just...being.
As part of this, I do two meditations most mornings. I come back to these little sanctuaries within all day long.
Sunday through Friday at 6:30 am, is CREATE, a guided meditation I made up based on a lifetime of finding what helps me be.
Friday and Sunday at 7:00 am, is BUILD, a guided meditation that I made up based on a lifetime of experimentation, to help me build something.
These are on Zoom, with the camera off. You just sit (or lie down), be, and breathe alongside me and others who are moving in a similar direction in their own unique ways, at the same time. It feels like we are collaboratively building a practice that supports us in "being," rather than just being good.
Take a peek at jennybienemann.com. See what you think. We'd love to have you. Send me an email for more information.
I close with this haiku:
"good" is good enough
it is better to "be," and
being both is best