I love Lent. It's my favorite time of the Christian calendar. Lent has it all: Sacrifice, sorrow, spiritual journeying and the anticipation of great joy. It takes place during a time of year when absolutely nothing is going on, so you can pay attention. I've tried doing Advent devotional readings, but quickly fall behind--who has time at Christmas to actually have a faith life? But Lenten readings? Piece of cake.
I don't want to knock Christmas--it's the best secular holiday of the year. I would love if it were a religious holiday, too. Who knows, maybe someday someone will make it one.
You know what I've never understood? Why there aren't bells and fireworks and general rejoicings in the street when the clock strikes midnight on Easter Day. I'd like to start a movement where Easter Eve is more like New Year's Eve, minus the debauchery.
In any event, Lent. Inspired by a comment Angela made over on Tina's blog, part of my Lenten practice this year will be doing a kindness every day for the next 40 (well, 39 now) days--write letters, knit socks, make phone calls to far away friends, bake cookies for the soup kitchen, etc. This is good for me, because I'm very selfish, yet spend a lot of time feeling guilty for not giving more of my time to others (money is easier, but, sadly, my friends don't take checks).
As for the fasting part of Lent, I'm going to try to not eat any processed/junk foods. I tend to eat pretty healthy stuff in general, but have on occasion been known to eat several boxes of Wheat Thins in one sitting. Also: it's surprising when you decide to cut out processed foods, you discover you eat more of them than you think. I'm sad to be giving up my wonderful soy breakfast sausages, but out the window they go. Also, my Lender's whole wheat mini-bagels and the flat bread from Harris Teeter that I so enjoy. I will be doing a lot of baking this Lent, both for the homeless and myself.
I would like to be able to announce that for the next month or so, I'll be filling this space with profound spiritual insights, but between you and me, that probably won't happen.
Take last night. Before I went to church, I'd been planning on blogging upon my return, to share with you some important Lenten lessons. However, right before I left, Jack and I quarreled over whether or not I should have let him play Super Paper Mario until he'd reached a place in the game where he could save his progress (which is always twenty minutes after he's said, "I'm just about to get a place where I can save") instead of telling him if he didn't get off that very second, he would never play Mario again. I left the house feeling cranky and not at all spiritual.
When I returned home from the service, marked as Christ's own, the first thing Will said, "I bet you think the house smells funny now. That's because I threw up." Yep, all over his room. And he continued throwing up until about 3 a.m., poor thing.
So I guess the only Lenten insight I have to offer so far is: When you come back from church, hug the child you were highly irritated with only an hour before, because you are Christ's own and so is your Wii-obsessed son. And when your other child spends the night throwing up ... well, hmmm. I'll get back to you on that one.
Welfare........Pay It Forward!
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