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Reflections from the SwampWhy I Celebrate Lent

Why I Celebrate Lent

Reflections from the Swamp
Richard van Duyvendyk

Dear Reader

Many lapsed Catholics have discarded most of their religious traditions and beliefs. For us, these beliefs have led to more questions than answers and failed to withstand the scrutiny of our modern world. For me, one of the exceptions to this cleansing of the theological closet is the celebration of Lent. Ash Wednesday, in particular, calls me back to mass and the receiving of the ashes on my forehead.

For those of you who have never had ashes placed on your forehead, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days leading to Good Friday and Easter. Historically, Lent is a time for self-examination and reflection. People fasted, prayed, and gave to people experiencing poverty. The ashes remind us that from dust, we’re created, and to dust, we will return. Life is short and fragile.

Today, many people have broadened Lent to include giving up things besides meat that have hindered their health or peace of mind, such as sugar, alcohol, or trolling the internet. For those who have already dropped our New Year’s resolutions, this time of Lent is an opportunity to start something new and drop something that may give us health or psychological concerns. The time frame of 40 days is reasonable for starting or dropping new habits. Lent is open to everyone, regardless of one’s background.

The online media has sucked me into looking for articles on Trump and Putin: A colossal waste of time. These and other topics occupy mental space that competes with subjects such as reading or learning about gardening, creative writing, fixing tractors or spending more time with family and friends. One of my Lenten goals is to cut back on the internet to almost nothing. Most people give up eating sugar, alcohol and junk food. I’ll be changing my diet for healthier choices during Lent.

Here are a few ideas to help you get started for Lent.

1) Don’t buy anything you don’t need. You can save money by not buying coffee, lottery tickets, or junk food. Put the money towards a cause.

2) Throw out or donate 40 things during Lent. Most of us have too much stuff. We can’t take it with us, and the kids don’t want your collection of spoons(unless they are silver).

3) No put downs or gossiping for 40 days. Refraining from gossip might be difficult, but it will give you a more positive disposition. It also builds trust in others for you.

4) Limit your use of social media. Money, fame, and status are not meaningful in life. The thing that matters is love and only love. Think of doing random acts of kindness for family, friends, or others. Show them you care.

5) Care about your health. Start some exercise, even just walking every day. Eat more vegetables, healthy foods, and less salty and sugary snacks like chips and candy.

There are no penalties for not being successful at your Lenten goals.

Best wishes

Happy Valentine’s Day

Richard

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