Anway, I finally figured out what I’m giving up/taking up for Lent this year. Technically before Ash Wednesday even started! Yes, it *was* 11:58 PM and 32 seconds, but who’s counting? 😉
So… giving up meat or pleasure or things like that are problematic for me. The former because protein is a Big Deal in my diet. What a diet it is! Soy and seitan and many other happy options are not available to me. I’d have to be so anal about my diet it’s not even worth it. Trust me, I do scrupulosity with the best of them. In my book, keeping bees is *still* not slavery.Pleasure is another problem, because the topic is so broad that things can deteriorate into absurdity. Like “Oh, no, traffic got better! I enjoyed being able to *move forward* to my destination! Hair shirt! Hair shirt!” Or… “Jesus gifted me with special Joy this morning when the sun creeped through my window and a bunny jumped across my yard! Oh, bother!”
There are a lot of emotional things you don’t have control over directly. You can choose how to REACT in real time, but not the advent of these feelings in the first place. That is, you can say, “No!” to what your psyche is offering, no matter what that is. Saying no does not mean the feelings go away, it just means you don’t respond to them or encourage them. Often, you can say, “Look, a chicken!” and the feeling will get tired of being ignored and go home. Eventually.
People get confused about repression. Where it becomes a problem is when you deny having the feeling in the first place. Not reacting to something you KNOW you have is very, very, different. It hurts more in the short term, but fails to cause lasting psychological harm. Denying the feelings themselves is lying to yourself. If you knowingly do it, it’s even a sin, because you are just as much a Child of God as anyone else. That’s a double edged sword, ain’t it?Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It fits under the broad category of pleasure. Bing bing bing! Big flashing red sign that you have NOT chosen wisely for Lenten fast. Not only can you not avoid feeling pleasure about little things, but you can’t even deny it exists. God doesn’t set you up for Catch 22s. If it happens in your moral calculus, that’s a sign you need to go back and reexamine your assumptions. Of course, Joy has a special meaning in theological circles, and is not mere happiness, being thrilled, or things like that.
It is an admiration and recognition of God’s goodness, coupled with a deep seated Peace that comes from trusting God. They can be attached to other things indirectly. For example, C S Lewis talks about a time when he was first aware God existed in a palpable way. He rode his bike through some trees on his way to school. The morning was still, and dawn had just kissed the sky with pale pinks, salmon and purple. There was a light mist in the trees and they were in bloom, and for a brief moment it was like the whole world stopped to take a breath. For that small moment it was perfection, and he felt that all was right in the world.That, my friends, is Joy. I’m paraphrasing mightily here, and I promise I will go look up the passage and post it here at some point. But I’m already running late today. And, I even forgot to tell you what my choice was this Lent.
I’ve decided that I’m giving up pre-packaged convenience foods for Lent. Focusing mostly on the snack, meal, and especially dessert category. Note that this doesn’t count pasta because that needs preparation to be used. I mean, if you look at it correctly, *eggs* come prepackaged. But chances are I will save brown rice pasta for Sundays anyhow. Ironically, my “brown rice couscous” does count, even though it requires cooking. It’s fast and has seasonings and you can just add…a can of chicken and you have a meal.
The protein powder would also count, but I’m counting an exception to that, too. I’m doing a liquid fast for Ash Wednesday. I figure avoiding solid food will be enough to pass muster. (So, protein shakes, herbal tea and unsweetened jello! Yaay!) My husband is doing a full-on fast today. This means I drive us to Lenten Service. (I’m having a brain fart as to whether or not it’s a complete mass today… I haven’t eaten yet, so begging pardon!)I hold an exception for gelatin, because… because protein is good, and deciding if it’s solid or not is treading mightily in the philosophical realm. I’d have to ask Aquinas to find out! Don’t worry dears, my protein shakes won’t have any added sugar and a very limited amount of cherry juice in them, say a teaspoon. (That’s medicine that helps with my arthritis. REALLY.) Since there will be three times as much kale powder, I think I get a pass. No other fruit save (if it counts) coconut water. Yeah, we are kind of serious on Ash Wednesday. Probably because we are sinners
But what I’m taking up for Lent is a special focus on the Domestic Church here at home. That is, integrating God with the way I run my household. This has been an issue for a while. I can get so distracted with my own stuff and any computer screen ever, that I forget to stop, take a breath, and say a prayer, write my spiritual director, read the bible, etc. So, I will focus on how to order my day around a greater awareness of God in my day.
I mean, I create for a living. How hard can it be? 😉