It's that time of year again where we wrack our brains trying to decide what our Lenten sacrifices will be.
This year the fasting requirement applies to me again. Two years ago, I was pregnant so it was a no go. Last year on Ash Wednesday I attempted it, but Marian was still nursing vigorously and I nearly collapsed in the try. I ended up shoving whatever food I could find into my face about mid afternoon and took a pass on Good Friday altogether. This year, Marian is still nursing but I think it has lessened enough to fast. We shall see.
In recent times a popular sacrifice has been to give up Facebook or blogging or all forms of electronic entertainment/communication. I do not ever intend to totally give up any of these. My life would take on the proportions of a hermit were I to give up online communication.
In previous years, I have given up political blogs which did me a world of good. It served to disenthrall me from the political vortex which can suck you in and not let go. It's all a passin' away anyway. I still enjoy a good political argument, but it doesn't have the same sway it did in the past.
This year my Lenten discipline will be to get in bed earlier than I have been. I have really let this fall by the wayside. I have developed the habit of getting up early enough and Marian is sleeping better at night so I am able to gut through not quite getting as much sleep as I should. If I put a little more effort into it, I could be getting to work exactly when I desire and leaving work earlier and it would all around be better.
What keeps me from this? The deadly last check of Facebook. I love to take one last gander at the world before bedtime. It only takes 10 minutes, right? 10 or 15. Maybe 20. If there is a good conversation in the works, sometimes 30. You see how this snowballs. It is especially hard to walk away when everyone comes out to play after getting their own kids in bed. So the first hard stop of Lent will be: No computer after the kids are in bed.
About eighteen months ago, quite by accident, I developed a weekly Starbucks habit. Starbucks is not the best coffee there is by a long shot, but I received a gift card and decided to use it during our weekly shopping trip at the store inside the grocery. I decided I liked this little ritual and kept it up. I ask for gift cards at holiday times to subsidize it. Last year, I gave up my grocery coffee and thought it a fitting sacrifice. Weekly I had to pass this store and remember. The only hangup is that we grocery shop on Sunday mornings. Is it theologically appropriate to fast on Sunday? I suppose the real question is whether it is theologically appropriate to grocery shop on Sunday. It is the best use of our time, but I am ambivalent about it. Be that as it may. The second hard stop of Lent will be: I will give up the Sunday Starbucks habit. I suppose as a penance for the shopping, we should pick up items for the local pantry more often than we do. This inspiration arrived as I typed all this so perhaps the third hard stop of Lent will be: Buy food for the food pantry weekly. What should we buy? Something good and useful and not dreadful.
The last project I would like to attempt is to work through St Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life again. I started this last Lent and did fine with it until I got to the General Confession. First I had to figure out what a General Confession was. Oh....And then I spun my wheels trying to decide what to do about it until the end of Lent. I want to try again this year. I do not intend to make a general confession mostly because I do not see what there is to be gained by it if I am not also in regular spiritual direction which I am not. Since I have a game plan for the confession, I see things going much smoother this year. And guess where the best time for me to read might be? That's right, the time gained from the foresaken bedtime Facebook.
So there it is, the Lenten project for the year. Honestly it looks almost exactly the same as last year's, but I don't think I am ready to move on yet.