JAN: So I have confession to make. Every year since I can remember I celebrate Lent, which starts tomorrow.
That's right. I give up something for 40 days. But it's not a religious thing. Although I once was what they call a cafeteria-Catholic, after the priest-pedophile controversy, I became a seriously disaffected Catholic.
Still, I always give something up at Lent. Something I really like a lot. So does my husband, both my brothers, and my 20-year old son. What's weirder is that we actually look forward to it.
I've given up: chocolate, cookies, wine, all alcohol (twice), all sweets (numerous times) and saying anything remotely negative about anyone (the hardest of all). My son gave up butter once. And television - an incredible challenge when he was 12-years old.
One of my very best friends, (an atheist) questions my sanity almost every year: Why, she always asks, when life is so short, would you give up something you like for 40 days??
Because its oddly satisfying. I don't think it makes me feel "holier" or closer to God. But I do think it must makes me a little more pleased with myself.
In real life, I'm weak on self-discipline. I've never been able to stick to any diet for more than twenty minutes. I routinely violate my writing schedule. And once I start on email, I can't stay away from it.
But no matter what I give up for Lent, I manage to stick to it. And its not because I'm doing a lot of "self-examination," or going to church. On some days, (okay, I admit, Good Friday) I revert to cultural training and think about being a better person. . But is completely separate from the deprivation.
In some ways, I think I might like Lent for the same reason I like camping or taking vacations on a sailboat. I enjoy the challenge of a restricted space.
This year, I'm giving up sweets, (this includes Cosmos, but not fruit, ) and checking email no more than three times a day. I don't think this gets me into heaven or "prepares me" for Easter. But I do wonder if it provides a teeny-weeny rebirth. A passage into spring.
So am I just totally Catholic no matter what I say? Or is this some sort of human need? All sorts of cultures include a fast. Can anyone out there understand the appeal of 40 days of abandoning your Valentine's chocolate?
And, tomorrow when I'm on my first day of drinking my latte with no sugar, come back for New York Times bestselling author Kate Carlisle, who will be blogging about her Scottish roots.