So, yeah. Mardi Gras totally crept up on me this year, and had I an inkling about its timing I’d be out drinking and probably engaging in any number of debauched activities, even after having done this very thing in a college town this past weekend. It’s as if the cosmos, once again, set things up so nicely for me to get things done in just the right time and prepare for bigger things ahead. If one can call Lent “big”, that is.
No, I’m not Catholic (and I’ve only ever been to a Catholic mass once, earlier this year in fact, and after sitting through a homily that just happened to rail against sorcerers and magicians for 15 minutes and after getting a dream about being persecuted by a church for witnessing something that should be entirely open, I won’t be going back). Still, the idea of cutting back on vice, even harmless ones, to get closer and more in touch, more rejoined, with the Almighty has a very strong appeal. Besides, Lord knows I’ve got shit in my life that I could cut out, and some of it’s stuff even I recognize that I can, should, and really ought to do away with.
So, let’s break this down into three groups: fasting, things to cut out, and things to stick in.
- Not eating out, buying, or eating food I did not make at work
- No grocery shopping
- Restricted eating out (no more than once per week, vegetarian only, no alcohol; including visits to friends’ houses)
To cut out:
- Naps and sleeping in past sunrise on any morning
- Capitalization of the pronoun “I” (an exercise in humility) except for professional communication
- Gossip and sarcasm
To stick in:
- More prayer: adding on one or two more prayers to my nightly prayer schedule, and setting aside some time each midday for more prayers
- Donating a portion of each paycheck to a local charity
- Weekly one hour loving-kindness meditation in a public space, releasing it into the world
What do I have to lose from all this? Not much: the money I’d be using on whatever fanciful foods I’d be buying would be going to those who need it instead; I wouldn’t be losing any sleep except that which would be unnecessary to begin with; I’ll have fewer opportunities to slack off or have excuses to put off my Work. What do I have to gain? More awareness about myself, what I need, and what I’m blessed with. Whatever other benefits will come about from this will come about.
About the bit about grocery shopping: last year, my friends at work dared me that I couldn’t give up grocery shopping for Lent, because…dude, it’s food for the house. However, my old housemate just moved out and left all his food, leaving me with a kitchenful of food for one person. Not only was I able to survive Lent, I was able to completely wipe out my cabinets and cupboards (save for spices, baking materials, and rice) after two full months, not buying a single bit of food. I intend to wipe out my cabinets once again as much as possible, because those ten pounds of pinto beans aren’t going to eat themselves. As it so happened, I did a fair bit of grocery shopping just yesterday while wondering when I should begin my Lenten fast, so I’ll be well-off for a good while to come. Thanks, cosmos!