Another year, another Lent is upon us and for the first time I’ve had people helpfully pointing out that I have ink on my forehead (in past years I’ve always been at home or at an intensely Catholic college for Ash Wednesday).
I am conceiving of Lent this time around as a time of purgation: getting the bad and overemphasized parts of myself out of my system. Speaking of which, I’ve noticed that some people justify their sins or otherwise unsavory behavior by claiming that they’re “getting it out of my system” (I’ve noticed this mostly in the process of doing it myself), when actually what they’re doing is putting it into their system. When someone, say, views pornography or blows up in anger they aren’t purging something from inside themselves, they’re reinforcing the bad tendency they already have. “I’m getting it out of my system” is a pretty silly excuse when you stop to think about it: do you conceive sin as a kind of reservoir inside yourself which can only be removed by doing it?
Anyway, I’ve decided to minimize what I ‘give up’ this time around and instead work on what I’m going to ‘take up’ (that sounded cheesy and self-righteous, didn’t it? Sorry). I’m not gonna run down a list of what I’m doing for Lent, since there’s the whole ‘go into your inner room…anoint your head’ command against holding up our good works to be seen.
The one thing I will note is that I’m going to try to be more joyful. While I don’t like to admit it, the fact is that I’m a rather grouchy person a lot of the time. So, as part of my Lenten commitment, I’m going to try to stop worrying, grieving, and growling so much and try to be more relaxed, more loving, more open to the joy in my life. Lent’s the perfect time to try to be more joyful, since, in the first place, it’s the lead up to the celebration of our salvation and, in more coldly practical terms, by removing distractions and trying to draw closer to God, we ought to become more aware of the reasons we have to be joyful.
Holy and Happy Lent to all!