The season of penitence and fasting. When the fish fry brings both fast and indulgence to Friday nights. Is there a more traditional season than this one?
I do the same things every Lent. Not always on purpose.They just happen anyway.
Here’s how it goes for me:
1) I freak out.
Every year I act like it came as a total surprise. And I always ask myself “Why didn’t anybody tell me that Lent was coming back this year?” and “Why didn’t they warn me that it would start in the middle of winter? It’s like a sign.”
Then I realize I’m a priest and it’s my job to warn other people. So I give them about a week’s notice and scramble.
2) Start planning a week out.
I look up the publishers to see what’s available this year. Then realize I haven’t read any of the books or devotionals. I decide against getting any of them.
3) Ask about ashes.
Thank God we have someone who burns the palms, because I’d be up late Shrove Tuesday with a lighter, three brittle palms, and a fire extinguisher.
4) Think about fasting.
I think about giving something up for Lent, like a good boy.
5) Negotiate the definition of “fasting”.
“Do I have to give something up, or can I take something on?”
6) Realize the true meaning of fasting.
It’s all of a piece. Giving something up is taking something on. My mind is blown again!
Just like last year.
7) Decide on something that is just hard enough.
Like the year I gave up sweetener. I actually learned to like black coffee.
8) Focus on my behavior.
And find myself making wiser choices. Like drinking more water and eating less junk food.
9) Pray more.
Morning Prayer becomes something I’m used to doing.
10) Plan more.
11) Reflect more.
On Scripture and theology, particularly my Christology (relating to Jesus), Atonement, and the cross. The light stuff.
12) Explore both a high and low Christology.
Dissatisfied with both.
13) Become more Catholic.
With more personal pieties and doctrinal thinking.
14) Become more Protestant.
With a reconciling God of forgiveness.
15) And become more Anglican.
Like a second New Year’s resolution.
17) Keep trying.
And learning and doing.
18) Examine the fast.
To see what’s working and what isn’t.
19) Tinker and reevaluate.
To make my fast even better.
20) Look forward to Holy Week.
And its break-neck pace; trying to write all my sermons before the week begins. And I’ll fail at that too.
21) Thank God that when I go to break my fast in Easter, I won’t feel the need to.
But I’ll feast anyway.