I've always been intrigued by the various Lenten practices each year -- this is the first time I've decided to hop all the way on the wagon and try one. Here's why:
A few weeks ago, I realized the holiday pounds I added to my middle were not going the way of Santa Claus. Apparently my formula of exercise 5 days a week and eating whatever I want in unlimited quantities wasn't adding up to the "figure" I envisioned. I've never been good at math. Anyway, I decided to think about giving up my nightly bowl of ice cream for the month of March and see what happens. Granted, it is low-fat or frozen yogurt and the bowl is small, but it is also every night with very few exceptions. This thought had nothing to do with Lent. It was about fitting once again into my pre-pregnancy jeans. I realize I haven't been pregnant for more than 3.5 years, but those jeans are still the measuring stick of my body image, and there has been only one small window where I could get them both zipped and buttoned.
On a completely different subject, but also leading up to my Lent decision, I've been thinking about my son's birth country. I miss Ethiopia like crazy. The people, the customs, the love and sacrifice, the poverty, the simple lives -- it all had a profound effect on my world view ... and my daily life. When Caroline eats half of her lunch and says "I'm full," I think about Ethiopia and fret over throwing out the leftovers. When I forget to put my water bottle in my gym bag and think about shelling out $2 for a bottle, I think about Ethiopia ... and use the water fountain. The other night, my mom saw me rip a paper towel in half and said, "You can have a whole one." So I told her the story about walking with Sisay over a mountain in Wondgenet. We were being followed by a handful of residents (not unusual when ferengis are present). Sisay finished his water and handed the empty plastic bottle to one of the young men. Later I said, "What's up with that?" And Sisay said it's a valuable item for him. He'll use it for many things.
Although I saw much poverty in Ethiopia, that moment had a major impact on me. I think of it often.
Now I'm certainly no model of frugality, but I try to be aware and appreciative of the little conveniences as well as the luxuries and indulgences in my life. So when I got an email from our pastor with an idea for Lent, the pieces of the puzzle came together. It's not an all-or-nothing 40-day fast but a series of weekly fasts that I hope will open my eyes a little more to the privileges I (and now my son) enjoy on a daily basis -- privileges that most Ethiopians don't have.
So here in print I commit to giving it a try and then blog about it along the way. I'm going to post a quick summary below, then in a separate post I'll spell out the whole shebang. Each week begins on a Monday and ends Saturday. Sundays are feast days.
Week one: Only necessities; no self-indulgences
Week two: Pick a food type and fast it
Week three: No TV, music, media
Week four: No social media or internet (except for work)
Week five: Focus on others
Other than week two where I'll give up my bedtime snack (and will most likely be the only one in my family to do so), I really haven't thought too much about the details. I'm just going to take it as it comes...and then whine and vent as necessary right on this blog.