I'm going to start by re-capping our brown-out. I don't think there's any way to describe our brown-out except cold and eye-opening. We decided to turn our heat down to 50 degrees (just warm enough to prevent the pipes from freezing), so we minimized our movement around the house because coming out from under the blankets that kept us warm just seemed like unnecessary torture. In that, our house was a mess by Saturday afternoon. Since we were not using hot water, dishes did not get done; and since we were not moving around so much, all the things that we'd used during the day (books, cups, shoes, candles, etc) were left around the house.
As the two days passed, we became more and more aware of the little things that we took for granted- warm water to wash our hands, showers, turning the light on when you enter a room, alarm clocks, having use of the van to leave Kensington, a hot cup of tea/coffee, calling home to say thank you for a package or checking email... anyway, you get the idea. Upon the conclusion of the brown-out, Emily, Maureen and I huddled together on the couch in the living room and spent approximately 15 minutes sharing things we were grateful for and resolutions of how to be more mindful of our energy consumption in the future. Last night we were talking about the brown-out and how it was an attempt at being simple but it certainly was not easy- two words I'd previously thought synonymous that now take on two entirely different meanings. Needless to say, we were elated when we turned the heat back on, took hot showers, and went to Camden to see a movie.
Our Team returned Saturday evening and we all were able to work together Sunday morning. It was so great to have them back despite how much we LOVE when they're gone! (There is a certain freedom that is felt when the sisters leave). We all watched the Super Bowl at Jamie and Renee's (which we're just not going to talk about since it was a very sad time in my life). It was fun to see everyone and hang out outside of work, even though much of the Team was sick.
So, I guess that brings us to today. Today is Ash Wednesday- the start of Lent. I am excited for this new liturgical season!!! I am excited because my eyes were opened differently to the Advent season and my guess is it was because of the community which I am involved. I cannot wait to see how I grow and learn during this Lenten season!
My previous conceptions of what Lent entailed involved me being upset because I gave up candy... the entire 40 days were tainted simply because I couldn't eat something I loved so much! This year, I've come to learn that Lent is a three-part season including prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Instead of simply giving up something (which is valuable, don't get me wrong), I have also taken on the challenge of diving deeper into my own spirituality and relationship with God. It is something that I have been thinking about for quite some time but had yet found the avenue to pursue this goal. Just recently Joanne gave me a book she found at her library called "Praying in Color", a wonderful book that instructs those pray-ers that have previously found difficulty in the discipline of solemn and quiet prayer to express their prayers through coloring. I just had my first attempt at praying in color and am very excited to see where it will take me! If you're interested, look it up at your local library!
Anyway, the coming season is now approached with hope and anticipation of the journey and change that can occur. With any luck, the changes that I make for Lent will be carried over into ordinary time, or life beyond Easter.
Apart from all of that, things around the Inn have been really good! We've been warned by Fr. Michael that January, February and March are "the tunnel months" as many volunteers begin to feel the effects of their experience, maybe experience homesickness, and get caught up in the bleakness of winter. Well, perhaps it's the very mild winter we've been having or my wonderful community, or the true joy I feel here, but so far I've managed to bypass the tunnel months!
I am looking forward to what next year will bring (as many asked me while I was home for Michael's wedding what I'm doing next year), exploring my options and saying lots and lots of prayers trying to figure out what's in store for me.
Thank you for all your prayers! (I just tried posting pictures from Michael's wedding and it didn't work... so in a future post, it'll be entirely wedding pics so stay tuned!)