For Christians, the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter, called Lent, is a time of reflection, repentance, and spiritual renewal. It's an ancient tradition, and whether people realize it or not, has created ramification in surprising places.
I remember, for instance, when I was growing up noticing that the school cafeteria menu on Friday's was always fish. Mostly it was our school's take-off on McDonald's Filet of Fish sandwich, which we called the "Viking Special.". It was a fish patty with cheese in it, fried, served with fries, and cole slaw. I can't imagine they sold too many of them - they never seemed all that appetizing to me, but maybe that was because I was still in my "I hate fish" phase.
Anyway, not growing up Catholic, I had to ask my mom why that Friday menu never varied for such a long period of time. Who knew it was because many people who observed Lent did not eat meat on Friday?
Many people give something up for Lent. I have several friends giving up sweets, or TV, or coffee, or soda.
Some people add something - more prayer, more serving at a local agency.
Some marry the two. Giving up buying morning coffee, and donating the money saved to a homeless shelter, for instance. Giving to the poor is one of the basic four things that Christians tend to observe during Lent.
I confess, I am late deciding how I will observe Lent this year. I wouldn't tell you anyhow - it's not about tooting the horn. Except to say this - I do plan to ask God to show me where I need to repent of something I might not even realize I am doing.
The point is, it's a time to renew our spiritual commitment. It's not about choosing something to be legalistic about, it's about focus, and on getting things which might be distractions to our spiritual growth out of the way.
That's something I could use. How about you?
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