Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mardi Gras

Today is Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday - and a day of final feasting and celebration before the penitential season of Lent begins. Twelve years ago on this day my twin sons were born. The blessed event didn't fall on this exact date that year - back in 1995 it fell on February 28th. Nevertheless, we got a good chuckle out of the fact that this big mama was delivered of 12 pounds of baby on Fat Tuesday! Talk about giving something up for Lent...

Which brings me to that whole concept. Many of you folks have gotten the wrong-headed, but right-hearted notion when it comes to the tradition of giving something up for Lent. The "giving something up" deal is supposed to be about introspection and reflection. There is no other time like the season of Lent that offers you an opportunity to be truly intentional about navel gazing with a purpose. The purpose of giving something up is so that you can do a little bit of clearing the cobwebs to make room for something new. The something new should be a disicipline - something that will be instructive for you, that will help to shape and form you into being more of who God has created you to be. So, forget giving up chocolate or beer if the only reason is because you think you are supposed to deprive yourself of some pleasure during this 40-day (not counting Sundays) season of preparation for Easter. It's not about deprivation but about inclination. In other words, figure out what would be helpful to give up so you can make room for what you need to take on so that your heart, mind, body and soul will be more inclined toward God and hearing what God would have you know and do. Some folks at the Ship of Fools site offer some great daily ideas for how to try on some new good habits. Check it out here. You can try their idea of something different each day, or you can peruse their list and find one thing that suits you and stick with it for the season.

In the mean time....this might be a good time to really take on a spiritual practice for the season. Maybe praying regularly, or picking a passage of scripture to meditate on. Maybe finding a book about the Christian life to read. Or, here one to think about: Try going to church to mark each of the Holy Days of this ancient season...beginning with tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. This is the day that marks the beginning - maybe it could mark a new beginning for you. I'll keep you posted on the other days in addition to Sundays as they come along.
So how are you going to keep a "Holy Lent?" Add a comment and let me know - sometimes a little public accountability can make all the difference! After all, that's so much of what being the church is all about - recognizing that we're in this together.

No comments: