I was looking at all the social media sites I use this morning and came to a conclusion: while my feeds on Twitter and Google+ are relatively normal, my Facebook page is extremely eclectic. As we speak, there are pictures glorifying “God, Guns and Guts” alongside ones from Media Matters, MoveOn and other left-leaning groups. And if wasn’t for the ones from my more spiritual friends, I would have completely forgotten that today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
For all you Baptists out there, Lent is a one of the liturgical year’s celebrations that starts of Ash Wednesday and runs through Easter Sunday to prepare the believer for Holy Week with prayer, repentance, penance and self-denial. It’s that last one I’m concerned with today. Because, it’s traditional to give up something during the season with the idea that such denial will help center you and make more intentional in your faith. I’ve done this several times in the past, giving up things like soft drinks (harder than it sounds, I drink a lot of Pepsi), coffee (didn’t make it a week) and other stuff. One year, I got creative and gave up being a smart ass. It was, at best, marginally successful. Being a smart ass is a large part of my personality and, as learned that year, you really can’t change your personality in forty days. Last year, I didn’t give up anything because I realized it wasn’t really getting me anywhere. I suppose it was nice to be connected to a couple of thousand years of tradition, but in the long run, it was making zero difference in my life. Plus, I couldn’t think of anything significant that I had a prayer of successfully giving up. So, I gave up giving something up. It was the best Lenten season I’d had in years.
This year, however, I can think of several things I’d love to give up. Take surgery, for instance. March 9th will mark the fourth time I’ve gone under the knife in five years and I think that’s about four too many. Another obvious one is chemotherapy; I’d love nothing more than to give up six months of feeling like hammered shit. In fact, giving up doctors in general is some self-denial I could get on board with. But, it’s not just personal things that I’d love to let go of, there are some outside issues that would make excellent choices. Like, stupid-ass Republican politicians feeding people’s fear and pandering to their prejudices to get elected. I don’t know about you, but I’d love giving that up. How about giving up some of those prejudices for Lent and, instead of inserting discrimination into our founding documents and crapping on poor people, we bring them into the fold and do whatever’s necessary to meet their needs? Sadly, there’s not a lot of chance any of these will come about (except maybe the chemo. I’m trying to stay positive). But, if they did, wouldn’t that be an amazing Lent?