...the other morning as I was doing Pepes Saturday morning paper route. As I flung a paper up onto a porch I realized as far as I was aware, it was just another day.
I guess I never have quite gotten what Lent is supposed to be about.
When I was growing up as a kid in a Catholic grade school, wearing my blue corduroy pants, blue dress shirt and deep blue tie (bow tie until 4th grade - and then we got to wear LONG ties. Believe me, this was a big deal!) -
- anyway, back then there were two big things I knew about Lent. One, you couldnt eat meat on Fridays (or was it every day in Lent, and only Fridays the rest of the year? I cant remember), and two, you were supposed to give up something for Lent.
Of course, the trick then was not to give up something you would actually miss, like pop or Snickers bars or M&Ms, but something you didnt like at all, like cooked carrots. I think I gave up cooked carrots quite often.
Come to think of it - I STILL have given them up!
But no one ever explained to me WHY (or, more likely, I wasnt paying attention).
So now, here I am 40 years later, still trying to figure it out.
40 years. Sort of an appropriate number. Not that is EXACTLY 40 years - but it is in that range, and 40 is a good, Biblical number for a long time (sort of the way we use the phrase a million these days, as in, I wouldnt eat cooked carrots if you paid me a million dollars. Inflation at work!). Everything in the Bible is 40 something.... it rained on Noah 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert. Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness.
So I guess it is appropriate for me to take 40 years to finally get a clue.
Or at least try.
So, what IS Lent all about?
I am thinking it has something to do with sacrifice.
More specifically, it has to do with the sacrifice Jesus made when he left his home in heaven to come to earth to die for us.
Just think of that. Jesus left the glorious light of heaven; his absolutely perfect, warm and wonderous home; to come to this cold, cruel, hard earth, to be beaten and abused, and finally to walk the dusty, bloody path to the cross. He offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins.
As I write this, Lent is about half over. 20 of the 40 days are already gone. So if I am going to do anything to make it more meaningful, I had better start doing it NOW.
So here is what I am thinking.
Since Jesus set aside the comforts of heaven to walk the dry, dusty ground of earth, I should set aside a bit of MY comfort to help me remember that.
THATS what the whole point of giving up things for Lent must be!
For the rest of Lent, for the next couple of weeks, I should set aside (give up) the things that make me comfortable. Well a few of them anyway... one or two at east. My morning coffee. My frosty glass of Coke. My usual bowl of ice cream with butterscotch and chocolate sauce... just anything extra that makes my life a little more comfortable.
For the next couple of weeks I am going to set them aside.
So tomorrow morning, when I go to fix myself a nice hot cup of coffee - and then say to myself, Rats! I gave that up for Lent! I can also say...
Jesus set aside the comfort of heaven to come to earth to save me.
© 2004 Paul Dallgas-Frey