Having been raised Catholic, Ash Wednesday, and the subsequent season of Lent, was a pretty big deal when I was a kid. We were always encouraged to give up the hardest thing possible to really put our devotion to the test and show just how willing we were to suffer right along with Mr. Jesus. Looking back, it was the ultimate misery loves company kind of thing.
Which, I guess is a nice sentiment, but as I grew up and really started exploring spirituality in a very personal, dedicated way, I outgrew the notion that any kind of God would want me to suffer in any kind of way.
That sent me exploring the whole idea of Lent a little deeper. And here’s what I’m thinking: Maybe lent isn’t about giving up the things that lift us up. Maybe it’s about giving up the things that keep us down.
If you think about it, nothing keeps you down quite like death. And nothing raises you up quite like joy. So giving up the things that make you feel less alive, like worrying, jealousy, smack talk and insecurity, in favor of things lift up your confidence, your hope and your joy is, in its own way, a resurrection of sorts. Raising you up new levels of happiness that are currently buried inside you.
That being the case, it seems to me giving up something for Lent is not about sacrifice. I kind of feel like the concept of divinity increasing though suffering and sacrifice is a misguided human creation that has, unfortunately, taken a hold of a good many. Perhaps all that is required or asked during this time is that you give up any pattern of thought, word or action you currently live by that is not rooted in the highest quality of love and kindness and respect for who you truly are. (Which, in case you are wondering, is a magnificent, joyful, resilient, infinitely potential-filled rock star.)
Every time you are able to give up the habits and patterns of behavior that keep you down, you raise your spirit a little higher from the dark, unknown within, until eventually that awesome little sucker is fully walking around in the light of day. Maybe even prancing a bit. Who knows, souls very well might love to prance. (Double dog dare you to find out!)
In honor of that fancy, prancy spirit, I say we all update our operating systems to Lent 2.0. Let’s define Lent as time that has been “lent” to us so that we can fully focus our energies on the resurrection of our true spiritual greatness from underneath all the doubts and fears we’ve managed to bury it under. Think of it as a reminder that our time in body on this planet, as well as our bodies themselves, has been lent to us for the purposes of growing into a complete understanding of our true, undefeatable nature.
This Lent, I say let’s not sacrifice our happiness in any true way. Rather, let’s realize who we are. Give up who we are not. And raise, raise, raise the roof off this popsicle stand we call life. Whoooop Diddy!
©2002 The Book Of Duh, Merry Carole Powers and Sarah Lorraine Feit