ash wednesday is in a couple days, and if you’re catholic (or former catholic), you know the season of abstinence will be upon us.
i know i’ve questioned the no meat on fridays thing at least a couple times, in that i don’t understand how going to a huge fish fry or meatless spaghetti feed on a friday is supposed to promote abstinence in any way just by the absence of meat, but i have been rebutted and told that the community aspect is key. so: gorge on.
today my mom asked me what i was giving up for lent. she knows i’m no practicing catholic and that i have agnostic leanings. still, the idea of “giving up” something for lent is appealing – not in the sense of OMG i’m doing this for god and so i know what jesus went through and the starving children in africa, but more of a self-control sense. (i might add that since the holidays, my self control when it comes to food has gone really haywire.)
on top of that, does it necessarily need to be food? why can’t we add something back in? for instance, i think something i will be trying to do over the lenten season is to run at least 4 days a week for at least a half an hour each day. as it is, i run 3 days a week, anywhere from 20-40 mins a day. self-control, abstinence, and sacrifice can come in difference avenues than the very thing that sustains us. besides, shouldn’t we be eating in moderation in the first place?
i know giving something up has its perks: think of the sweet reward at the end of lent when you can add that bad thing you shouldn’t be eating anyway back into your diet. instead, how about trying to eat healthier? eat more fruits, vegetables, proteins, etc. maybe cut back on caffeine, and at the end of lent, how about just not adding it back in?
now, i could never give up chocolate forever. (chocolate was the classic childhood give up thing.) on the OTHER hand, i HAVE given up devil’s syrup forever. (i tried to tell my mom i was giving up corn syrup for lent – it didn’t fly.) maybe instead of deciding the give up a “bad” food for 6 weeks, how about making a lifestyle change and eating a little healthier or doing a little more moving? volunteering at a food shelf or giving $10/month to a charity? setting aside meditation time each day to focus on the present? it doesn’t quite have the allure of “omg i gave up chocolate for 6 weeks and now i can stuff my face with ALL THE CHOCOLATE” but i think by not villifying our vices, it might be a little healthier and easier*.
*or is it not supposed to be easy?