okay, so today is ash wednesday. that means its the first day of lent. which means there are 40 days before easter. and supposedly this is a time of penance and preparation for the biggest celebration on the christian calendar. (i actually think only catholics, and maybe episcopalians care about lent. must be the guilt fetish...)
earlier today i emailed saunia (my friend who is getting her masters in theology, no less) that i hoped she had a good lent. she says, "are you supposed to have a good lent?
my response is, why the hell not? last year i ate chocolate everyday of lent, partially because we dumpstered a 55lb boulder of it the night of ash wednesday and we had a shit-ton to go thru, but also, it was a conscious decision to do something good for myself during lent instead of give something up (which is the traditional move). in fact, my freshman year of college i went vegan for lent and afterwards kept vegetarian for the next 5 years, with 6 week stints of veganism every lent. and thats how that dietary discipline started in me...
when i was a kid i gave up candy, or watching tv, or something else that was a major bit of discipline for an 7, 8, 9, 14 year old. but at some point i started actively doing something instead of not doing something. like, going to a soup kitchen, or helping out around the house...but still some sort of discipline was involved. and inevitably, when you failed, there was plenty of guilt involved...
this was the old-school way. i mean, i was taught that the point of lent was to be penitent and sorrowful to prepare for christs death and rebirth. he spent 40 days fasting in the desert, the least we can do is not eat meat on fridays... i dunno. in some ways it makes sense.
but sometime after college i decided that since lent is a time to remember, to prepare for the big event that caused a bunch of jews to start a whole new religion based on the teachings of this one slightly crazy, rabble-rousing revolutionary that was so out there his main battle plan was simply to love people, then why not have the whole preparatory time leading up to easter be a slow process of celebrating instead of mourning?
hence the chocolate to combat the greige sinking in. [greige(n): the moniker for the weather in the pacific northwest winter that slowly creeps into your bones and makes you want to kill yourself] i mean, lets be real here, its seattle in february. its dreary and gross. this weather demands that you have a purpose or you are defeated.
so this year, im searching for purpose. i think that has to be my lenten activity. i cant handle fasting and self-flagellating when its already close to impossible to get out of bed.
good old coffee and whiskey...that was my mayan new years resolution (at the start of fall/winter) to fight the greige with coffee in the morning and whiskey in the evening. it has done me well so far, but now i need something that will stick to my ribs. now i need a plan of action.
lent is a good time for this. this hunting for purpose.
it hit me like a cast iron pan across the kisser last week that i cant for the life of me decide on a larger purpose for myself. that i refuse to choose something and go at it with all my strength, mostly cuz im so freaking scared, in equal measure, of both failure and success. but im running out of time. this is my last year in my 20s, there isnt time to screw around anymore. my lifes work cant wait much longer for me to finally pick it up, heft its weight, and start figuring out how to carry it forward. or maybe i just cant handle walking along with my hands in my pockets anymore.
i like the idea of doing this work during lent. i like the idea of this being a time to prepare for something so miraculous as to change peoples whole worlds... i dunno. i want it to mean something that ive survived this far. and that am finally (hopefully) headed somewhere.
ive got embryos of ideas of where that might be, but its now a time of gestation. a time of growing in a challenging-me-to-figure-out-what-i-believe-in-and-am-willing-
to-put-my-energy-towards-in-a-real-life-encompassing-way way. i will show you these ideas when they are less fetal. prolly by easter.