Lent My Way

I’m doing my own take on Lent this year. Normally I (attempt to) give something up; this year I am committing to adding something: I’m sending something in the mail for each day of Lent. (Note: I am not doing a daily mailing as this is a package-heavy project and post office hours don’t exactly complement those of a nanny. )

See, I did some thinking – always a dangerous habit. (NB: I don’t mean dangerous in that I am mailing anything that ought not to be mailed because I’m not. My friends and family are opening a variety of things, but we’re talking cardboard boxes versus Pandora’s Boxes.) While I comprehend the reasoning of giving up something for Lent as token gesture of Christ’s sacrifices and to gain an (again, token) appreciation of His suffering, the more I thought about it, the more I thought it almost makes light of it. Crucifixion versus not biting my nails? Abstaining from soda/alcohol/caffeine/sweets? As much as I love soda – and I really, really do – forty days without it seems kind of trite compared to, oh, some crude nails being pounded through one’s wrists. Maybe I never made serious enough sacrifices, but it almost seems like belittling (instead of honoring) the suffering of Christ. Additionally, out of respect for others – I am ever a giver – being around a sugar-starved or uncaffeinated version of me? Um, that’s suffering for everyone around me…and I don’t think that’s the point of Lent.

I should caveat here that I consider myself more inclined toward living the morals, ethics, and ideals of spirituality than adopting any sort of literal interpretation. My old phraseology was “I prefer to live my faith.” And honestly? It’s a lot harder to live one’s faith than sit in a pew for an hour once per week. I grew up in a somewhat religious family and I memorized all of the words – congregation AND leader, thanks – long before I understood the meaning of even half of them. These days, I intellectualize and think way too much. Nasty habits…perhaps I should have given those up for Lent!

Instead of giving up that uncontrollable thinking o’ mine, I am instead channeling it.   I am spending the time I used to spend thinking about how much I wanted a cookie to think about others. I’ve sent things to people I’d sort of fallen out of contact with and also managed to disperse some treats I bought impulsively – years ago, in some cases.

Forty is a lot of things to mail. I’m not there yet, but by adding instead of subtracting, I am having a much more productive Lent. One of my major issues with organized religion (and why I’ve strayed a bit) is the negativity – be it guilt, judgment, exclusion of individuals, or internal unrest. To me, religion is a very personal thing and one I am still exploring. Regardless if this is an “appropriate” Lenten commitment, it is an appropriate commitment for me and my mail recipients seem generally all right with it too.

More than anything, this is probably an exercise in personal growth and development. Combining it with the Lenten Season is providing me with additional structure and sense of purpose within it – and I think that for me, that is more beneficial and will have longer lasting benefits than a more traditional sacrifice.


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