Lent: A season of change for everyone?

Time for a change?

Time for a change?

Forgive what is undoubtedly a blasphemous topic for this post…

I’ve been thinking about Lent. My particular brand of church doesn’t have any strong traditions with respect to Lent as a season, apart from the sermons, the liturgy surrounding Lent is a pretty tamed affair. When I was at University, a good chunk of the student body was Catholic. At the time I became accustomed to hearing “can’t do it… I gave it up for Lent” or “no dessert for me, I gave it up for Lent.” In school the give ups were mostly: beer, cigarettes, dessert, chocolate and occasionally meat.

Long out of school, the phrase “gave up for lent” doesn’t come up very often. When a friend of family member mentions it, I assumed that: a) They were catholic, and b )more religious than I had originally realized. But other than that, I gave it not much thought. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

In the save way I’ve adopted Chinese New Year as my own personal holiday and set of traditions (in spite of not having been to China), my friends are adopting some of the Lenten traditions, because they resonate with them. These friends view it as an opportunity to :

  • Make a break from any bad habits that have crept up over the past year (or 10!)
  • Introduce positive lifestyle change
  • Put a halt to the consumption of all baked goods… in case that didn’t end at New Year’s
  • Introduce a new habit (or kill an old one). 60 days (or there about) is plenty of time for the change to take hold
  • Even if you don’t make a permanent change, 60 days without “pick your poison” is better than 60 days with it.

Yet another variation on this same theme is to not only “give up” something for Lent, but also to “add” something positive. This is akin to the Oprah style of management – if you want to bring something new into your house, you have to give up something. Now the big question is what to pick:

Give Up Add
  • Meat
  • Whites (flour, sugar, salt)
  • Wine (that wouldn’t be much fun)
  • TV
  • Bad TV
  • Dessert
  • Starbucks
  • Takeout
  • On-line shopping
  • Saunas
  • Yoga
  • Early bed time
  • Packing my lunch
  • Meditation
  • Supper prep (this has lapsed of late)
  • Exercise (daily, not ad hoc)
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I’ve seen it all

Every time I travel, I see or learn something new. Lately I’ve been connecting through Chicago. Long the bastion of velvet track pants and McDonald’s takeout, my expectations for O’Hare are not very high. But this week’s “something new” was a low point, ever for Chicago. Two ladies boarding my plane walked on with a medium pizza in a cardboard takeout box. The thing hardly fit down the isle. She had to hold it up, because it wouldn’t fit between the seats. This made the guy next to me munching on a quarter-pounder from McDonalds look refined.