‘Tis the season… of Lent

It’s been over a year since I started keeping this blog, a year in which I have seen God’s incredible faithfulness to us through many things – the Match, house-buying, moving, starting school again, work, and residency.  And now it is that time of year again. Lent!

As I wrote in this post from a year ago, I was not very aware of Lent growing up. As a devout non-denominationalist, I thought Lent was a Catholic event and undesirable because it required deprivation. But now that we are Presbyterian, my eyes have been opened to the wonderful parts of Lent; it is a season of prayer and thoughtfulness and reflection.  Recently one of my friends mentioned that Lent is her husband’s favorite time of the year, and I can understand why.

But let’s back up. To kick Lent off in style, I went to a MFC Girls Night Out Mardi Gras party the night before. Chris was working an evening shift, and the location was literally around the corner, so even though I didn’t know the ladies well, I had no reason not to go! I wore all the Mardi Gras beads I owned and acquired a few more during the party.

There were a couple wonderful international ladies there who were quite surprised that Mardi Gras is an American “holiday.” That led to a long explanation about how, in most cases, it is really just an excuse to party, like St. Patrick’s Day. “But isn’t that Irish?” asked one of the ladies in surprise. Yes, I explained… and it too is a convenient excuse to party.

Mardi Gras was a rather sober party for me because I had given blood that day and, in case you don’t know, it’s a bad idea to drink alcohol the same day you give blood. However, I really enjoyed the two different kinds of king cake they had, and of course Girl Scout cookies were present. It was a great social time with some lovely Rochester ladies, and a good send-off to the Epiphany season.

So… what to do for Lent? I added this blog last year, so I decided to give up something this year. After lots of thought and reflection, I decided: CNN.

CNN has become my autopilot. When I’m bored, I’ll type in CNN, even though the articles haven’t changed from a few days before… even though all the news is at a 2nd grade reading level and skewed to the left… even though some of the proofreaders could use another day job. Sorry, CNN fans, you know it’s true. And after all, those things never kept me from going back to the website. Of course it’s good to be well-informed about the world, and helpful to know about pop-culture, but what I was doing wasn’t research. It was… addiction.

Instead of turning to CNN in a moment of boredom or frustration – instead of filling every waking minute with something to read – I need to be still. And that’s what I’ll be doing for the next 43 days.

***

I had to work on Ash Wednesday, but I came home to find my husband waiting up for me with something on his forehead.  On Thursday we went to handbells together and played some of the beautiful minor-key music of Lent. Today we had Bible study and discussed our Lenten observations.

Everybody observes Lent differently. Some ignore it; it’s not part of their spiritual culture, and that’s fine. Some people give up cheese or chocolate. (!!!!) And some add a Bible study or a devotional.

Whatever you add or give up or continue doing, I pray that this Lenten season will be a rich experience. I hope that it will draw you closer to God and that you will celebrate Easter, God’s ultimate gift to us, with your faith strengthened by your time in the desert.

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The Beginning…. of Lent

I have toyed with blogs in the past, but passion for the subject always eluded me after the first couple posts. Don’t look too hard, you might find those ghost blogs still drifting in space with my name on them.

This first entry coincides with two important things. First of all, it is Ash Wednesday, which means yesterday was Shrove Tuesday. Last night, I didn’t have a very wild Mardi Gras as I was working. The highlight of the evening was getting supper in spite of having what I call a “split float” – going to two different floors on the same night. Everyone has a horror story about those, I don’t. I expected to maybe get 15 minutes to eat. God bless the charge nurse who sent me to a full dinner.

Yes, but speaking of Ash Wednesday. Growing up in a Bible Church, we never really gave up things for Lent (or Quadragesima, as I prefer to call it. Haha.) . In fact, we didn’t even really mention it too much. My Catholic friend always gave up sweets, and I always looked at her in disbelief. No sweets for 40 days?! More recently, our vegetarian friends became vegan for Lent. No cheese for 40 days?!!! Now that we are Presbyterian, it is a bit more kosher (pardon the mixing of metaphors) to give something up.

The talk of giving things up makes many people, including myself, uncomfortable. I think I may just not be at the point where I can give up a luxury without making a big deal of it. Sweets are indispensable, especially in February, especially in Minnesota, especially right before Valentine’s Day. Maybe Facebook? Six weeks is a long time to be cut off from reading about other people’s trials, tribulations, and omphaloskepsis (and the occasional cute baby picture). Especially as Match Day, focus of another post, will be happening right in the middle of it. Therefore, I believe I will instead add something – this blog!

The other significance of this date is the preliminary round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (henceforth ABNA) was announced – and my pitch made it through! Small victories, everyone. Yes, last summer I wrote a 60K word novel called Driving Out Fear and now I am figuring out how to get it out there while working on sequels.

Back to the season of Lent. I see from Wikipedia that Lent is to be given over to prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. Eeek! Well, in that line of thinking (penance, repentance… nuns?) we did go to see Nunsense in Mantorville last weekend, and it was very good. But the whole thing was a gift from our friends, so I can’t even count that towards almsgiving. Enjoying the performance was hardly an act of self-denial.

I shall really have to work on this observation of Lent business.  And with that… off to work.