Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, which leads up to Easter on March 31. It’s a holy time which allows for introspection, self-evaluation and remembering the humble Easter story and how it pertains to our individual lives.
As a child, Easter was also special to me. Aside from the Easter Bunny’s treats, the new white shoes, gloves, dress and hat I wore to our Easter service at church was a big deal. Even as a little girl, I knew it was a holy day.
Fast forward a few years, and I was infatuated with many of my junior high friends who were Catholic and came to school with a smudged thumb print of an ashen cross on their foreheads and chatted easily about what they were reluctantly giving up for Lent.
Fast forward quite a few more years, and I’ve come to appreciate the practice of giving something up for Lent. Basically, some people — not just Catholics — who participate in Lent pick something to give up for 40 days. The concept (in an overly simplified nutshell) is to sacrifice something you feel you rely too heavily on, thus depriving yourself of some kind of luxury out of your devotion to your religious beliefs.
Hhhhmmm .., prior to last Wednesday, I was in some sort of a turmoil, as I tried to close in on that perfect item I needed to kick to the curb for the next 40 days. I wanted it to be special (though, the thought of cooked spinach did come to mind); otherwise it wouldn’t mean anything.
Why is it many who contemplate that Lenten sacrifice automatically think of food products? Sweets, fried things and salty snacks first came to mind. Really ... I did toy with giving up one or all of those items. Not only would it be a sacrifice, but it would be good for my body as well. On the other hand, I grew up on a farm where sugar, salt and fat were clearly the Holy Trinity. I just don’t think God would expect me to mess around with that coveted Holy trio.
Right after sugar, salt and butter, I automatically thought about caffeine, which of course would include coffee, sodas ... and chocolate. If you’ve ever worked around a bunch of newspaper folks, you know caffeine, for many of us, is the lifeline to meeting deadlines. In other words, getting the newspaper to you in a timely fashion often depends on the Bunn coffeemaker’s performance. No ... I couldn’t do that to you folks. You want your newspaper on time; the caffeine would have to stay.
Let’s see ...
• I have a friend in Wisconsin who gave up Facebook for 40 days. While I admire her for that, posting on Facebook is part of my job, so that couldn’t happen.
• I have another friend who decided to turn off the TV for 40 days. While I don’t spend an enormous amount of time watching TV, I remember a few years back when I turned the TV off for three months. While I didn’t miss all the nonsensical programs, I did miss the news ... which is my job. While I still lose my remote several times a day, the idea of no TV probably wouldn’t play well with my job either.
• And then there’s the friend who decided to give up the frequent glass of wine she has after work nearly every day. I thought about keeping the cork on those wine bottles too, but when you think about it, we have to also consider communion wine in that scenario. Giving up wine for Lent? It just doesn’t seem proper.
The other Lenten sacrifices that crossed my mind are many ... I could have given up my daily exercise routine — which consists of walking from my vehicle into the BCR and vice versa at the end of the day — but then again, that didn’t seem like enough ... Other items I considered — refraining from talking on my cell phone while driving, ice cream (even though Dairy Queen just opened), procrastinating, going out to eat (which I seldom do anyway), speeding (just kidding, Sheriff John Thompson), and sarcasm (Yeah, right! I’ll get right on that one!) ...
A few others ... giving up my snooze alarm on my bedroom clock, giving up taking the elevator instead of the stairs (good thing the BCR doesn’t have a second level), giving up talking on the phone altogether (that was just stupid), giving up wearing make-up (that was scary and stupid), giving up searching for that close parking space instead of parking a ways from the door and walking, giving up texting (OMG!) ...
Please understand, my friends, I am just kidding around. Please don’t write me letters telling me how sacrilegious this column is ... I’m just having a little fun, and I truly respect the Lenten season and all it represents. While I would consider myself to be far more spiritual than religious, I hold the Easter story very near and dear to my heart ...
But back to my Lenten sacrifice ... I’m happy to report I finally figured it all out. I don’t know that it’s going to be simple, but I think it will teach me much. For the next 40 days I’m going to quit complaining and cease all negativity. That’s right. You’re talking to the new, happy and positive Terri Simon ... (Sigh!) I have to wonder if cooked spinach might have been easier ...