February 2010


I was at work today thinking about Lent as I passed out chocolate candy to the adults taking our training course. Someone had thrown in  three of my favorite types. Part of me really wanted to reach in and take a nice Reese’s mini. More than usual, this year I’ve been thinking about why people give up “silly things” like sweets or coffee or Diet Coke for Lent. Skeptics  say that it isn’t spiritual; it’s a diet. I disagree. Sure, it may be a diet to some, but it can also be meaningful.

In When Things Fall Apart, Pema Chodron warns readers to beware of “babysitters,” those things we use as crutches to avoid facing tough reality. Maybe after a stressful day, it’s easier to delve into a box of chocolates while watching TV than analyzing and accepting what’s really going on. Lent gives us an opportunity to name our babysitters and break away from them. A chance to free ourselves from routines.  It’s a path uncomfortable, even foreign, to many Westerners: freedom through discipline.

When I was in Israel, for the first time I heard someone describe the rules of the Torah (beginning of the Hebrew and Christian bibles) as liberating. The concept that anyone could find peace and freedom through a set of restrictive rules baffled and intrigued me. I paid more attention to the rules governing orthodox Jews and conservatively religious Muslims during the rest of my stay. I found new meaning in their religious restrictions.

Last year changed my life in innumerable ways that I’m only beginning to understand. This is the first year where I’ve given up something for Lent and felt free instead of bound. It’s an amazing experience.

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I’m excited about joining Overdue Fines online book club. I’ll respond to what I thought of Waiting on the club’s blogspot. Equally excited to be able to pick the book to read for February, and don’t worry, it’s not a love story. At least I can’t imagine that it is. I’ve been on a non-fiction kick for over a year. I let Kate pick which of the many non-fic books on my list would be honored. The winner is The Devil in the White City.