Eight days until Ash Wednesday. The Lenten season is forty-five days starting—this year—March 5th and ending on April 20th Easter Sunday. Every year, I give up something for Lent as part of my spiritual building exercises. I’m not sure if it improves my character but I do have a better understanding of my failures and therefore a pathway toward divine development.
Each year I pick something heinous to give up. The choice is not easy because, unlike New Year resolutions, the contract is not with myself but with my maker. I have successfully given up cigarettes, chocolate, coffee, soda, sugar, meat, impulse buying, television—most for Lent and cigarettes for good. Swearing was a failed choice. I tried. Really I did. I never made it more than five days without something slipping out of the mouth.
My marriage almost dissolved during the great coffee abstinence of 2010. Every morning, Paul begged me to give up my pledge which made me even more determined to stick with it. I had become a crone with attitude. Migraines blossomed during the day but I held my bitchy guns and made it to the end. No one was happier to see Easter than my husband. He made me swear to never do that again. Agreed.
So much has changed in my life and quickly, from loss of husband, health, job, to separation from friends and my Bay Area home. I feel like I am swimming in oatmeal. Yes. I am moving forward. The sensation is not unpleasant but this is not who I am. If there is anything I would give up, it would be the wet mush around me that slows down my progress. How in the world do I define that?
Perhaps if I choose not the negative but the positive and pray…
Help me taste the day
Help me witness beauty
Help me hear good reports
Help me touch someone
Help me believe you're here
Dear Lord: I give up all that holds me down. Amen.
Okay if that doesn't work then I'll give up cookies.