Lent Week 1

Last year I was notably quiet about Lent and self-improvement,. This is due in no small part because I decided to give up Lent for Lent.
Ash Wednesday I saw many people making little jokes like that: "This year I decided to give up given anything up for Lent," or "I decided to give up being a Christian for 40 days and night."
Ha ha, how hilarious.

I didn't forgo the sacrifice last year because I was fed up with the Vatican or anything (though, as a woman, I am). Last year Ash Wednesday just snuck up on me. I had made a batch of rose petal jam donuts for Shrove Tuesday and there was just far too many of them to eat in time to get them out of the house for Lent. Then when I took a look in my fridge I realised there was still about 5 pounds of cheese, a half gallon of milk and 3 sticks of butter. And it was 5 PM on Shrove Tuesday. Dear Reader, I had no single desire to give myself dairy poisoning in the name of Jesus Christ and thus I figured He, His Father and His Ghost would understand if I took the year off.

This year I'm back in the wagon, baby! I don't know if it's because there was a hiatus, or what, but this year a week in I have been finding it really really difficult to keep to the fast.
To pass the time, I figured every Wednesday I would jot down some observations of my fast.
For starters, let me break down what I believe Lent to be about. My mother, every year, categorically states she she is not giving up anything for Lent out of religious or spiritual motivation, but to prove to herself that she can go 40 days without chocolate. Other people give up things that they really genuinely enjoy because they believe Lent to be 40 days of suffering.
While it's not really a religious time for me, it can get to be a bit spiritual. I do not believe that one is required to be miserable for close to 6 weeks.
The Roman Catholic Church says that Sundays don't count, and Lent is suspended for them. To that I respectfully reply: That is bullshit. Two years ago I wrote some reflections on the struggle I was having with Lent, and I made the point that we are trying to imitate a 40 day period of fasting and meditation in the desert. So when people say, "you know, you can have cheese on Sundays," I respond, "yeah, Jesus didn't come into Jerusalem every Sunday for some home cooking."
Re-reading that blog post just now helped chrysalise my thoughts on what I believe Lent to be. It's a time to reflect and reach an understanding. Despite what Buddhist Monks may have us believe, one can still enjoy oneself while striving to attain enlightenment. You don't sleep on the bed of nails with the purpose of hurting yourself.
It is, however, easier to come to whatever understanding you reach once you've set aside these Earthly little distractions like chocolate or meat. By denying yourself these luxuries and realising that you can in fact live without them (for 40 days, at least), you nudge your mind along different channels to think of other things, either in the hopes that you'll distract yourself from pining for that grilled cheese sandwich, or because you genuinely don't have have to worry about this stuff anymore.

What I've Learned So Far:
1) Ohmygiddyaunt I miss cheese! I think more so than meat or milk. A piece of toast with just the jam and no butter is not as exciting as it used to be, either. But cheese is it's own special problem. I can't have any pizza, or eggplant grinders, or Caesar salads. Pasta without that perfunctory sprinkling of Parmesan is slightly less magical too. Tuna melts, bean burritos, tacos quesodillas (obvi) are all on the x-lost because of that delicious morsel of milk mixed with some bacteria.
2) Peanut butter is so very necessary. And we ran out 2 days into Lent.
3) One needs to make some necessary exceptions. Eggs, for instance. I absolutely need these for breakfast, otherwise I would turn into a bowl of granola by Easter. I do not recommend scrambled eggs with soy milk for breakfast. Some things should not be vanilla flavoured. Sugar is also a necessity when making granola, and I do recommend bowls of the stuff with soy milk. It's freaking delicious.
4) That being said, I've realised that the spoonful of sugar and drop of milk I add to my morning coffee is mostly symbolic. This a major achievement for me, not adding to my coffee. But I took a swig of it black and it tasted exactly the same. You better believe I'm going to fix myself a nice milky cup of tea on Easter Sunday, however.
5) Rewards are a good thing, but it's amazing what suddenly becomes a reward: A bag of doritos, or a packet of french fries from Wendy's; a few pieces of candied ginger. Today we rewarded ourselves with Szechuan shrimp from the Chinese takeaway. Holy moses it was good!
6) It is difficult to resist the siren song of Cadbury Creme Eggs when they hover, by the bucketful, next to the checkout line.
7) A handful of almonds, however, are just as satisfying.


Popular Posts