Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. I plan to have pancakes. Yes, I know I'm a day behind; pancakes were supposed to be today. Tomorrow I will have pancakes, then I'll go to Border's and have an all-day marathon comic book drawing session, and then an adoption meeting, and then back to Border's where I will draw more during Writers' Group.

Yes, I draw during Writers' Group. I could write, but instead, I draw.

The Lenten traditions are pretty much the only remnants of my Catholic heritage, plus a little tweaking. I love meatless Fridays - I used to be a vegetarian and I'd be one again if certain people would go along with the lifestyle. But I don't drink or smoke so I can't give those up, and there's no way I'm giving up chocolate. Chocolate-free living does nothing to make me feel more holy. Instead of giving stuff up, I add stuff.

Specifically, I add 40 anonymous good deeds. One per day, theoretically, although I find that I can cram 5 or 10 into a good day and find myself scrambling to do one on a bad day. As long as I do 40 in all, which is a breeze once I get going, I'm good. In fact, I find that by Easter, performing anonymous good deeds has become such a habit that I keep doing them.

I follow certain rules:

1) No deed is too small to count. Picking up a piece of litter, replacing a misplaced item in the supermarket, or righting someone's overturned garden gnome are sufficient to be counted.

2) I try not to be caught at them, but if I have witnesses, or if the good deed requires direct interaction with someone, it still counts if they're strangers.

3) It's okay to blog about them in general, but this post will be the end of it. No specific anonymous good deeds will be mentioned.

4) Nothing political or otherwise controversial. In fact, nothing based on spreading ideas, loyalties, or opinions counts. No fund-raising either. I can still contribute, solicit, or volunteer for my usual good causes, but they remain separate.

5) If anyone's interested in trying out anonymous good deeds for Lent, I happily describe my system! But it's not a buddy system. They can't tag along while I do mine.

This is my 4th Lent doing anonymous good deeds. It works out so well, I keep going back to it every year. And it encourages me to develop good habits that I can practice all year long to help make the world a better place.

If Yun Gui is inclined to learn by example, it's worth the effort to be an extra-good example. My husband joins in, and my mother has expressed some enthusiasm too. This country is really aching for some goodwill and some large-scale attitudes of self-sacrifice. (I thought it's been lacking those things for 25 years, but maybe more people will agree with me now that we're in a recession.) Where does goodwill come from?

I think it comes from me. :)

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