Lately, I’m looking closer at religion. Ready to take control of my spirituality, not ignore it, I’m deciding for myself. My history with the stuff is complicated — whose isn’t? — and that resulted in me avoiding capital R Religion for most of my adult life.
But on the cusp of middle age, I’m ready. I look straight at Religion and decide where it squares with me. Starting with Lent.
I’m sure you know all about those studies where the act of smiling makes you happier. For me, it works. When I find myself getting in a grump, pasting the fakest smile on my face works wonders. Since I’ve had such success with the smiling method, I’m applying this logic to Lent. Much like smiling can put me in a better mood, I’m “doing” Lent, church and the whole suffering shebang to see if the spirituality will follow.
Yesterday I got ashes on my head and acknowledged I came from and will return to dust.
Church told me Lent is about sacrifice, reflection, forgiveness. I can get on board with all those things.
More specifically, church told me that these forty days are the time to sacrifice that which comes between God and me.
Since I’m not sure what God even is yet — much less what’s standing between us — I’m going to use the pop-culture, spiritual, self-help language I’m comfortable with instead of the religious, patriarchical language I’m not yet comfortable with.
Lent is when I sacrifice what comes between me and my best self.
The best self. It’s an Oprah word, but it applies here. It’s the me I was created to be. The me inside of me. The me that’s using all my gifts and talents for my specific place in the world. The best self is the me I want to be.
For Lent, I’m sacrificing three things for forty days. These things are coming between the best me and the me I am right now.
My relationship to the both has become… just this side of problematic. It’s not a bad problem yet, it’s more like a habit that’s on the cusp of taking over.
How did I know? When asking myself what I should take a break from, both came up as the things I could never possibly give up. It made the decision easy. Since neither booze nor Instagram contributes to my best self, I’m giving them both up for forty days.
I love the notion of seasonality. I love that there are seasons for work (harvest), gratitude (November), celebration (Christmas), play (summer) and sacrifice (Lent) — not to mention atonement. So I’m trying it out. Seeing where it goes.
I’ll be checking in here periodically, with updates on both the “trying on” religion until it fits and Lenten sacrifice.
Are you giving up anything for Lent?