If you’re Catholic, you know that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a.k.a., the first day of Lent. Lent, for all you non-Catholics reading this, is the forty days (or 43, this year) before Easter when Catholics pray, reflect, fast and make penance. Basically, it’s a six-week period when we give up our biggest vices as a way to repent and sacrifice before overindulging in them once again on Easter Sunday.
So what am I giving up this year?
I usually denounce chocolate for the 40+ days, but being that tomorrow is also Valentine’s Day and next week is my birthday, this creates a bit of a conundrum for me. I could forego chocolate on the two days a year when I do indulge or I could cheat and suffer weeks of Catholic guilt. Neither option sounds appealing, so chocolate will not be on my Lenten hit list this year … Problem solved.
I could give up swearing and speeding, my two biggest vices, but who am I kidding? Both are part of my DNA and I own that sh*t. Plus, I’m usually late — hence my propensity to speed — so, no.
I could offer up alcohol, but I stopped drinking over five years ago and I don’t think Lenten sacrifices are retroactive.
I could duplicate last year’s extreme efforts and avoid the basics of modern life — food (I attempted the Whole 30 diet) and social media — but depriving myself of these necessities just made me mean. Or meaner, according to my wonderfully honest kids. Besides, if I give up Instagram again, how will you know what I eat for dinner or when it’s leg day at the gym?
So after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided that this Lenten season I am giving up Lent. Yes, you read that correctly. I am giving up the Lenten tradition of sacrifice and fasting. Instead, I am taking my cue from the universe aligning the first day of Lent with Valentine’s Day and giving something out rather than giving something up. For the next 43 days, my Lenten promise is to commit at least one act of love, kindness and/or compassion a day. Big or small. For a stranger, friend or family member. Anything counts as long as it’s heartfelt, pure and meaningful. Because isn’t that what being Christian is really about? Isn’t that what being human is really about? Spreading love, being kind, showing compassion … It’s what the world needs now more than ever.Plus, I figure a few good deeds should counterbalance a handful of F-bombs, right? I call that a Lenten win-win.