Let’s. Eliminate. Negative. Thinking. L.E.N.T.
I am borrowing this meme from Rev. Louis Olivieri but, I do expect he would like it to be returned! I also expect that he would like it shared, and I give thanks for my friend, as I return and share this acronym. It has started my experience of this season with joy.
It is Lent. I did not grow up with the big blowout parties, nor the pancake breakfasts to gorge and bless us. I grew up between two cultured religious questions – “What are you giving up for Lent?” and “Why would we give up anything for Lent? It’s some archaic, Roman Christian-imposed control to help control the poor and the food stores!” Yes, I could have been a creature caught in a culture of religious intelligencia and rote faith. But instead, I trust my deepest heart and my deepest mind, and it has led me to a personal faith.
Giving Up? Or Letting Go? If you wish to explore this holiday, what are you giving up for Lent? A friend’s father always answered “I’m giving up Christmas candy!” and as children it was both snarky and funny – but it can also read deeper. Everything has roots, but how do we fertilize and feed our trees of thought, how do we prune and protect them, shape our selves in this world? I too have given up Christmas candy for Lent. Not as the sassy response of a child, but as the conscious response of a storyteller who knows that nothing is as it seems. What candy am I releasing? I am giving up the candy of punishment that has so imbued this holiday. This is the candy of penance as a punishment, as if to harm and hurt was somehow a sacred act. It is not.
Penance is, at its heart, not punishment. Stripped of the baggage of centuries of cultural control, penance is the act of looking at what we have done that missed the mark of what we know to be our best selves. It is the act of finding those acts and forgiving ourselves, knowing that, if we will allow it, we are always forgiven. It is some sweet sorrow that wraps the honey golden truths we all carry with us.
The idea behind “giving up” something in your daily world, your habitual world, is the idea of being mindful of all the obstacles that you place before yourself that keep you from the Divine – however you define it. It is the space between noticing the craving and what that craving covers.
It may bring tears, it may hurt – but it is not punishment. It is grace.
This Lent I am once again stripping down and looking at what keeps me from my Divine. I am giving up Christmas Candy.