I forgot about lent. I love lent. I love the idea of lent. I’ve participated in some form of fasting for most of my adult life, and found it got me off soda in high school, and kicked my sugar habit in college, and gave me a lot of motivation for cleansing my body of nasty diet habits – not the point. It seems I was just using the guilt of religion to keep me committed to dietary cleansing.
I went to an Ash Wednesday service with some friends at a catholic church in Newport Beach last year (Kobe Bryant was there, I didn’t care but I really wanted to stand next to him to feel tiny for a second…aww look how cute and little I am). Before this I had only been to catholic weddings and if you’re not part of the catholic tradition it is SCARY going to Mass. I’ll tell you, they don’t cater to the outsider. If you don’t know the standing, sitting, bowing, repeating routine you’re going to look like a total newb. The priest sounded like Kermit the frog and we were in the back row giggling like little children in the SILENT echo chamber, then the anxiety of our laughter made us completely incapable of controlling ourselves, and it was all over.
I wish they did a little announcement, hey if you’re new no need to take communion, because otherwise everyone in the row files out, no one doesn’t, so you just get in line - mob mentality. Our friend Caleb was in the front and tried to pretend like he knew what to do but the guy gave him a look for doing something wrong. Then Trever went and didn’t put his hands out the right way and then the guy wouldn’t give him the elements, (or, “the little wine and the little cracker”- HRH Donald Trump). My heart was pounding because it was my turn next, I didn’t have enough time to study what everyone else was doing. I debated trying to pretend, then I just confessed much too loudly “I’m not catholic!”. I needed to get the truth out there you know, since I was in church. There was a long moment of silence and some intense eye contact, then he just blessed me, a relief since it meant I didn’t have to drink out of that mug everyone else has already drank from – really can’t be sanitary.
note: I have so much respect for the Catholic tradition. From what I know from the deep meaning behind their liturgy I think it’s really powerful and would love to learn more from them.
I am not fasting this year. Partly because I forgot, and partly because I’m lazy, and partly because I will convince myself it’s because I’m taking this year to remember the point of lent (most people give up meat for lent…every day I’m holy, do I talk about being a vegetarian too much?).
This year I got a book to read every day. It has a short reading for each day of lent and they are blowing my mind. I’ll probably talk about them later, but if nothing else, they just remind me that this is the holiest season for the Christian church. Every day it’s the lead up to the ultimate celebration in our faith and the ultimate exposure of our sin and depravity. As Walter Wangerin said, “I will carefully rehearse, again this year, the passion of my Jesus – with courage, with clarity and faith; for this is the mirror of dangerous grace, purging more purely than any other.”