An Early Lent/A Cheating Lent?
Lent officially begins next Wednesday. Yes, Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday are one in the same this year. (Which doesn't make me happy and there WILL be a blog post about it!) I'm planning on blogging my way through the season with weekly reflections (and daily ones during Holy Week), so keep an eye out. (Or be warned, whatever the case may be.)
Actively participating in the season of Lent is something I've been doing for at least two decades and I take it seriously. I am of the opinion that Lent SHOULD be taken seriously and thoughtfully.
When it comes to Lent, I don't know of any "official" rules. (Who would make the official rules anyway?) I do have my own "rules" as it were and that is to stick to it from 12:01 AM on Ash Wednesday to 12:01 AM on Easter Sunday. (And there were times, when I was younger, when I would stay up to take advantage of the end of the Lenten Season. Now I'm too old to even consider staying up that late!) There are no "days off." No "Free Sundays" or once the sun goes down on Good Friday.
However, the last two years have provided a challenge for me. This is partly because I made the conscious decision to give up more chocolate for Lent. (Which for me, is a tremendous challenge. I've said it before and I'll say it again...there WILL be at least one night during Lent when I dream about eating chocolate. I am NOT kidding. It is guaranteed to happen at least once!) Last year I also decided to give up all alcoholic beverages. For someone who likes her weekend wine, this is also a big challenge. But these “sacrifices" are small in the grand scheme of things.
My biggest challenge/problem is that right smack dab in the middle of the season, my husband and I work/attend a big convention for three days. This has always been a challenge for me because of my food allergies and the limited ability to find meals that are safe for me to eat. Additionally, we host an "unofficial" brunch for friends on the Sunday of the event. We bring in food (surreptitiously as the venue does not allow) and so do all our friends. It is a wonderful celebration with a group of people who only get together once a year. We toast each other with mimosas and eat the best food of the entire weekend (Have you ever tried convention food? For many of us, the smell of stale hot dog water and sauerkraut haunts us for all eternity.)
In my mind, Lent is not the time to celebrate, but I cannot change the timing of the convention. So I've allowed myself a little creativity. For that weekend, and that weekend ONLY, Lent ceases to exist. I allow myself the celebration and the indulgence. (Believe me, I don't think I could make it through the craziness without imbibing!) But, I need to "make up" those days; I can't just give in and not "repay" the time.
So here is my plan that I feel keeps the meaning of season while allowing celebration as well.
- I started my "giving up" yesterday. There is no more chocolate, no more cake, no more cookies, etc. and no more alcohol. (And believe me, by mid-day yesterday I was longing for piece of candy and had to remind myself WHY I couldn't indulge.)
- I will "break" Lent on Tuesday (Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras). This will also amount to an "early Valentine's Day celebration."
- Lent goes back into effect on February 14th through the afternoon of March 9th, which is when the convention begins. Celebration and indulgence are allowed through the weekend, but the minute the convention ends, it's back to sacrifice and reflection until Easter morning.
So am I crazy? Overthinking this? Not being faithful? Making up my own rules when I shouldn't? I'd love to hear everyone's/anyone's thoughts. How do you observe Lent? Do you give up? Do you give of yourself? Do you daily reflections? This inquiring mind wants to know!