A few years ago I wrote in my blog about Lent and thought it would be one I could re-post on this first day of Lent. I hope it gives you new ideas about what you might give up for Lent if you're thinking of observing the season somehow, or maybe just what you might want to do improve self-awareness and/or kindness.
MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2011
Lent started for me with a glass of carrot juice, my penance for Fat Tuesday. And though I couldn't stick with it more than that first day, it seemed fitting that Lent end with the same (besides, I'd bought one of those huge packs at Costco and I had to use it up somehow). I had gone to church for an hour on Saturday morning at 2 a.m. to participate in the prayer/meditation vigil there and it seemed quite appropriate to follow up such a meaningful experience with 24 hours of fasting. Planning to fast for a day from food until Easter morning, I had the last of my carrot juice on Saturday mid-day.
But then Molly said she felt like cooking batter-fried fish and chips for supper. How could I fast when she was doing the cooking, and it was going to be something deep-fat-fried? Besides, fasting to me during this Lent was more about leaving behind judgmentalism and negativism.
So I went ahead and had the fish, something I don't normally eat, since I'm a vegetarian. But come on. This was deep-fat-fried. And I don't think eating the fish got in the way of my efforts to be nicer. I noticed some positive changes in my attitude when I was out buying the supplies for Molly's cook-a-thon.
As I negotiated my way through congested parking lots, crowded grocery aisles, and cranky pedestrians, I realized my pursuit of grace over the previous few weeks was paying off. The dialogue in my head—normally scathing—this time wasn't offensive. When the guy in the giant, gleaming SUV cut me off, instead of calling him a stupid idiot, I thought, "Oh, he's in his own world. He wasn't even thinking about me." Really. No kidding. My spontaneous response in that instant was that. Incredible—especially if you knew what my normal tirade would be. I think I've really made some good progress this Lenten season. I've realized all those morons out there who need to be slapped silly aren't really that bad. They're just wrapped up in their own little world of troubles and woes and priorities that don't include using turn signals or thinking about who is next in line when the new register opens. It isn't about me. None of what they do is about me. (Except maybe that time I forgot to keep my dialogue silent and spewed off at that one woman a few weeks ago. What she said actually did have to do with me. But that's just 'cause I drew attention to myself by speaking out loud at her.)
Maybe this goes to show how neither carrot juice nor deep-fat-fried foods can change one's insides as well as effort and awareness can. And maybe it shows the hope that even people with bad habits can learn to have grace for others, and that it's not all about me.
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