Ash Wednesday

Today is the first day of Lent. This is also the day where Amy gets to repeatedly tell me I have something on my forehead. Apparently, that joke will be funny until Jesus comes back (see how I snuck that one right in there?). Also funny? When my dad asks me if Lent is something that you find in your belly button. Absolutely. I have been saving it for years now. I am going to make a lent bunny out of it this year.

Part of the purpose of Lent is to reflect on the sacrifice that Christ made for humanity. So, it is a rather somber time in the liturgical calendar. Some churches suggest giving up something during Lent to experience sacrifice, to create a deeper appreciation of the sacrifice made by Jesus. I like this practice. Each year, I get a little better at it.

The first year, I gave up beer (but still drank other malt beverages). I know, I know. Weak. But when was the last time you had to drink a Smirnoff Ice? It is a sacrifice, I tell you.

The next year I gave up smoking and beer. The beer part went okay. The smoking part… not as much. Yes, I felt guilty. Yes, I know Jesus saw me with that cigarette. He and I have since worked it out. He says I can still be His sunbeam. No worries.

Last year, I gave up meat. Excellent choice. There were health benefits. It felt like a significant enough life change to honor the Lenten season. I missed chicken wings, but I was strong in my shunning of the chicken wing. And, I still don’t eat meat. I also lost 5 pounds. I think that was a little bonus for sticking to my commitment. Everyone loves a bonus prize (like when you order now and get 20 Ginzu knives, FREE).

This year… I am giving up drinking (all alcohol) and smoking. In fact, I stopped doing those things about two weeks ago. Although I did take a break for a little Chubby Monday celebration (I didn’t want to celebrate Fat Tuesday because I had conferences this morning at 8 a.m.) The Chubby Monday celebration was a good decision because it would have felt a bit like sacrilege to offer oneself for reflection on the season of sacrifice at Ash Wednesday services while nursing a hangover. Yeah, Jesus, ‘preciate ya, but could you have mercy on the pounding in my head?

I will be reflecting on Lent frequently during the next 40 days, which is longer than 40 days because Sundays don’t count. Sneaky, no? Can I sign up for Lent Lite, the 40 day commitment?

Have a blessed Ash Wednesday. And please don’t stop anyone in the grocery store to tell them they have something on their forehead.

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