Those two don't seem to have anything in common, but right now for me, they very much do. I love Lent, and the spiritual reflection that it prompts, and this year is no exception. I haven't really "given anything up" this year; instead, I'm doing more spiritual reading and contemplation. I've started Fr. Walter Ciszek's He Leadeth Me, and as I'd heard, it's excellent. I'll write a full review when I finish it, closer to Easter. I've also been pulling out my study Bible in small bursts. Mass, as well, has been an increased joy. Since my "version" back to the Church in my early twenties (since I never really left, just got lax) I have never missed Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation except for illness. As you all know, though, sometimes Mass is edifying and transcendent, other times it's just fine but you feel nothing special, and other times still you have to prompt yourself a bit to get out the door. I think that's a very normal part of the spiritual journey. Especially when you have young children. The wrangling involved in getting them to sit quietly through an hour long service is sometimes more than we can bear with anything other than gritted teeth and a pasted on smile.
But these past 2 weeks have been just magical. I know that we go to Mass because the Lord is there in the Eucharist, and because it strengthens our relationship with Him to spend time worshiping Him whether or not we *feel* like it. But when we do feel something, it's a spiritual lift like no other. Maybe it's because I am close to someone who will be baptized and confirmed this Easter vigil, and going through the process at my own parish with the RCIA candidates and catechumens is helping me to feel a part of the program and closer to my community of believers. Perhaps it's because the baby will be born during Easter season, and this late part of pregnancy is coinciding with Lent nicely, reminding me of how important it is to face life's daily challenges with grace, humility, and Christian charity. Whatever it is, I've needed Kleenex at Mass for two weeks straight. It's really quite wonderful.
So, that's my Lenten journey thus far. Belly dance factors in with regard to that "daily challenges" thing. We all know that late pregnancy carries with it physical discomforts. And I cannot tell you how wonderful belly dance has been for me in making me more comfortable. My sciatica has been much improved, for which I am so very grateful. Sore hips and digestive pain have also been a lot better of late. I have always noticed that any physical exercise improves my sciatica, but belly dance is the best of the bunch. It feels *so good* to shimmy and hip circle, and I feel great when I get home, if a bit tired. I can even still undulate, much to my classmates amazement, although I have to involve my brain a bit more. My belly has shifted my center of gravity, so I have to consciously "scoop" in order for it to look normal. :) This applies to turns as well, which come naturally to me (as a result of many years of ballet as a child) when not pregnant, but require quite a bit of concentration in the third trimester of pregnancy. We have 2 performances coming up next weekend, and I feel really ready. I honestly feel as good as I can at 31 weeks pregnant, and for that, I am so grateful.
We're down to the final countdown prior to Baby CL's birth, and I'm ever so excited. He or she is due in just over 2 months. I can hardly believe it. I have my "childbirth refresher" class tonight, and will report in promptly. :)