Sunday, February 17, 2013

Observing Lent

I think I’ve talked before about my Grandmother. The woman who may just possibly be the sweetest woman in the whole world, until you take her picture one to many times that is. She has Alzheimer's, and is quickly fading away from us. The worst part is that while she isn’t really her, she isn’t gone either. It is strange to get inherited items from someone who is still alive. But as she vanishes I cling to all I know. When I helped clean her house I picked some strange things to keep, aprons, a pressure cooker, books, and her Catholic supplies. My Grandma is super catholic, she’s traveled to see the Pope and spent the last 10+ years going to mass 6 days a week, even volunteering for hours everyday. As she vanishes and fades away one thing I feel like I can cling to is her Catholicism. As her old possessions blend into my possessions, and her old plates become my new plates, one thing that will never blend in is her catholic stuff, it will never be mine. I’m not catholic. Until the day I die I will know that those saint cards, rosaries, and medallions were hers.

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And for two reasons, that being one, I am observing Lent. The other reason being that I write about families, and Lent is something many families observe together. Many people pick a family thing to sacrifice, as well as a personal thing. So I wanted to observe it, to honor my Grandma and to experience it with my catholic readers. 

Then I started researching Lent. I found out that exactly when it starts, how long it lasts, and what you have to fast depends on what liturgical calendar your church uses, and also where you live. Eastern Lent is much stricter then Western Lent. Americans get to sacrifice anything we want usually, but in some countries you fast, truly fast. Some starting with removing one thing a week and ending with only bread and water. I decided since I’m not using a religious calendar I’m going to start on Ash Wednesday and go until Easter Eve. No sooner had I given up the idea of more info on Lent than I got my newsletter and an article on Pagan Lent. It isn’t Pagan when you get down to it, it is just secular with well rounded information on fasting and it’s spiritual and physical benefits, especially at this time of year.  For example, the fact that by this time of year fasting could be more of a necessity historically than people realize, since stored foods would be expiring and fresh foods haven’t grown yet. It also talks about healing and the seasonal change during this time. Even the concept of allowing yourself something instead of sacrificing something.

My favorite quote in the article is from Brooke Medicine Eagle, who leads people in fasting and doing vision quests. “Whatever holes in your life you fill with food — or anything else you’ve included on your fast — will become very obvious when you begin to do without them.”

And so, I will finally announce what I am fasting- Drinks. I am only allowing myself water and coffee. No juice, tea, milk, or soda (the big one.) So I drink a cup a day (sometimes two) of coffee with powder creamer, no milk, and the rest of my drinks are just water. Originally I was just going to give up soda, which I only drink once a week or so. Then I decided to give up more, so here I am, writing to you, sipping a glass of nice cold ice water, and counting down to the Dr Pepper I get on Easter.

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