Lent is not about deprivation for the sake of deprivation, but about greater spiritual engagement, more holiness and a deeper connection with God and Christ. It's about self examination and removing obstacles. As I learned more, I realized Lent is about preparing for a transformation. After all Easter is the holiday of the ultimate transformation and Christ is the transformer.
While Lent is not a religious tradition that grew up with, I've become familiar with it over the years and have enjoyed talking with friends about what they decide to set aside during this time. One year a friend of mine said she was giving up all white foods, like yogurt, milk, vanilla ice cream, shortbread cookies, bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar and white chocolate. When I pointed out that it also included cauliflower, white beans, turnips, onions and egg whites, she laughed and said she hadn't thought of that. One friend gave up his Crackberry for Lent, and boy was that hard for him. Another gave up television. Others have given up chocolate, sugar, internet and even their car except in emergencies. And others have devoted volunteer time to causes in which they believe.
After much thought about this observance I decided to try it out this year. I am going to try this Paleo diet that a friend keeps recommending which recommends no dairy or grains. I'm giving myself two days to cheat, one is my birthday and another is a friend's wedding, and I will be eating cake on those days. I figure I can do anything for 40 (38) days and giving up grains (bread, pasta and cookies) and dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream and my favorite cheese) seems pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Maybe I'll give up TV too....
Here's to transformation!
I think this poster from the Church of England perfectly captures the essence of Lent.