“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them,” the deacon read in the Gospel on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. I’ve been struggling about how to share some thoughts about Lenten resolutions without disclosing what I’m doing. Mea culpa if this post hints at my Lenten practice this year.
With its repetition of words like sacrifice, self-denial, and penitence, the Ash Wednesday liturgy sets the tone for Lent. It makes sense then that a common Lenten practice is to give up a favorite edible or drinkable treat. In the past, however, it felt like my real motivation to forgo a high-calorie something was to lose weight. That seemed like a reboot of failed New Year’s resolutions; the sly purpose of self-denial was self-improvement.
Adding something — like going to church an extra day a week or reading the Bible — seemed more suitable. But I’ve learned that such resolutions don’t amount to much of a sacrifice for me or keep Lent on my mind. I’d go to church for 45 minutes on a weekday and then forget it was Lent the rest of the time until Sunday.
Now it seems that giving up something in the food and drink category has more merit than I used to allow. We’re talking about a treat, of course, not an essential food. The more you enjoy it, the greater the sacrifice.
Those who usually have dessert or a drink with dinner, or add sugar to coffee or salt to nearly everything, will miss their habits. Those accustomed to taking second helpings may leave the table feeling still hungry. Because snacking might be on their minds from morning till night, giving up snacks would be difficult for many and would be a repeated reminder that it’s Lent.
It doesn’t seem self-serving anymore that keeping such a Lenten resolution might have a fringe benefit like losing weight. What I think now is that the Divinity wants us to treat our bodies well. Perhaps by Easter, we would find that we had established a new healthier habit.
ANTI-TRUMP QUOTATIONS: FIRST IN AN ONGOING SERIES
I commented to someone recently that I still haven’t found my own way to resist Donald Trump. “But you have,” she said. “Your blog.” My answer was that I don’t write about Trump all the time. I also don’t think I have anything to say that others haven’t said already.
But she gave me an idea. I could tack my favorite recent comment disparaging Trump onto every post. Here’s the first one.
“America, what is left of it, is slipping away a little bit more every day, with a blessing and a wave from the truculent Trump supporters who simply get giddy whenever liberals lament. . . . We patriots and dissidents, we many, we strong, we steadfast, are the last hope the country has of returning to what remains of a pre-Trump America, where porn stars weren’t paid off, accused wife beaters weren’t valorized and our president showed more allegiance to our country than to another.”
— Charles M. Blow, New York Times, February 15