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Lent Out of Shape

Today is Ash Wednesday.  I did not make it to a church to get ashes, because, well, I am not really all that good of a Catholic.  But Lent has always appealed to me.  For one reason, it is winter when it begins and spring when it ends.  What a symbol of rebirth and renewal!  I also like the idea of giving something up, although I have always been less successful in that area.

When I was a kid, I would give up something like gum or candy.  The somebody would offer me some and I would remember about Lent maybe a half hour later.  Damn! In those days, I considered myself a very bad person for using a word like “damn.”  When I got older, I found out you could do something extra instead, like read the Bible every day or pray a rosary.  Some years my Mom, sisters and I would go to church every day.  I love daily mass.  It is shorter and much quieter than the Sunday version.

I usually try to do something extra these years, usually reading the Bible every night.  I know, that is something good Catholics do every day of the year.  Did you miss the part in the first paragraph about my not being all that good of a Catholic?  One year recently I tried to give up coffee.  That did not work out at all, and I felt pretty bad about it.  I thought of trying again last year but was hesitant.

“For Lent, should I give up coffee or read my Bible every day?”  I asked my sister, Cheryl, when we were in church the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.  She  told me in her best stern older sister voice that I could and should do both.  I got a second opinion after mass from Father Abe, the pastor of the church.

“If it was me,” he said, “I would drink coffee while reading the Bible.”  What a brilliant man of God.

This year I wondered if I should do something different.  Then I saw this meme on Facebook:


I love that Pope Francis.

I said, “That’s it!  That’s what I’m doing!”

And now that I have been at it for a day, I’m wondering if I should not have just given up coffee.  Going down the list from top to bottom:

I don’t think I said any hurtful words, although I’m not sure so many kind words passed my lips as could have.

Whenever I started feeling sad, I tried to think of something to be grateful for.  Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I just thought of those unpleasant people who are always dictating to you to “Just be happy that…”  as if they never voice a complaint.

I don’t usually have an anger problem, but today something just kind of pissed me off.  And I thought about a few anger-inducing things that happened yesterday, too.

Pessimism and worries (I’ll put two at once, to try to save a little time)?  I direct your attention to the state of the world, although there are also myriad problems in my little part of it as well.

Complaints is one thing I really have tried to give up and let me tell you, no smoker or junky ever had a stronger addiction than mine to complaining.  I just can’t help myself!

Pressures?  Well, that’s hardly up to me;  pressure is exerted from outside!  OK, I guess not always, and I did feel a bit of pressure today, and increasing bitterness as I go down the list and see how poorly I’m doing at this (got another two-for-one there, didn’t I?).

Selfishness is something I didn’t think I indulged in a lot, but I guess it is selfish to complain all the time, isn’t it?

Oh, and regarding grudges, can you believe earlier today I remembered some so-called friend that did me wrong back in high school and realized that I am still mad about it.  What the hell, me?  How ridiculous can I be?

And finally, fast from words.  Well, this blog is now over 600 words, which is long-winded for me, so I guess I have not done too well in that category either.

On the brighter side, I didn’t have a Wuss-out Wednesday, did I?  Happy Ash Wednesday, all you Catholics out there, and Happy Wednesday to the rest of you.


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