To Lent or Not To Lent

My mind was full of competing thoughts. All were bouncing freely through the brain. There are now three partially written meditations cluttering my computer–and my brain.

Then I noticed that it is Ash Wednesday.

I completely missed Fat Tuesday–Mardi Gras!

Oh, but that is OK. I don’t have to store up all the bad things in order to make it through 40 days of fasting. Among the traditions of my youth, observing Lent was not one that was observed. Most of the kids in my village did. Most were Lutheran, descendents of German-speaking Alsatians who came to America in the 1840s. We (the Methodists) sort of wondered about those Lutherans. Mom said to never marry one.

Mostly when we talked about ritual, we used the term “empty ritual.” This feeling was only strengthened when stories went around about what various people in town gave up for Lent. My favorite was the guy who gave up watermelon every year. Of course, we wouldn’t see any watermelon for another six months! Talk about empty.

We also didn’t have church and get ashes. Didn’t have a clue about that.

Someone just tried to define a ritual as something we do to change God, while a practice is something we do to work on ourselves. But I know many who gain great spiritual comfort from the traditions of ritual. That is not a bad thing.

It is good to set aside time to reflect on Easter. That is the single day/single act that sets us aside from all others. The day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. He was alive. He was hope in person.

It was good to be reminded. I need reminders.

If you give up something, do it wisely and reverently. I have a friend who gives up fried food, desserts, and (hardest of all) beer every year for Lent. He loses 15 pounds. But then comes Easter 😉 But he does it out of reverence for the season. He’s 85. Has been doing this for at least 20 years. It reminds him of why we have Lent.

What will we do in remembrance?

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