I notice a few of my blogger friends have been posting about the value of Lent in their "spring healthy lifestyle" tactics. And, of course, I say whatever works - though they do tend to give up the most painful things! From the perspective of habit creation, 40 days is a terrific time frame. And, when you give yourself a limited - but significant time spans- unlike, say with "this is the new me" January resolutions, you're increasing the likelihood of succeeding.
I also note with interest - though not surprise - that many of the Lenten self-deniers (aka healthful habit changers) are being all Lent-positive in a completely agnostic fashion.
Now, I was raised horrendously Catholic. My parents are first generation Italian and Puerto Rican from New York (yes, it is like West Side Story without the non-diagetic music) and there was not a holy day I could escape. I have been christened, first holy communioned, confirmed. Despite this - or maybe because of it - I never truly got with organized religion - the overriding, phallocentric philosophy of Catholicism grated particularly. But my extremely traditional father would hear none of it.
In his words (also like something out of West Side Story): As long as you live under my roof (or till you're 18 - whichever comes first) you go to mass.
You gotta know he was a hard ass. And a very principled man. He continues to go to church ever Sunday, God love him.
You know, I still haven't seen the end of Sybil, a movie which positively hooked me back in 1982 for its "modern take" on multiple personality disorder. My father made me turn off the TV and leave for church 20 minutes before it was over. (Daddy, if you're reading this: I told you I would never forget!)
Reactionism is a mysterious thing. The day I turned 18, I turned my back on the Catholic church. Oh, I've stopped in a couple of times to make my grandmother happy, but I have never felt the lure to return. (Allow me to detour briefly to say that my self-ex-communication from religion in no way contradicts my overriding spiritual beliefs. Not that it's particularly relevant here...)
My daughter has not been christened, does not attend church. We try to teach her about pan-religiosity to the extent that we understand, and continue to learn about, other belief systems. And we absolutely espouse morality and values and respect for everyone. I only wish the edicts of the Catholic faith did more of that. Please note, also, that this is no dis to the religious peeps - Catholic or otherwise. Believe as you do. I am a good person today for all of my life experience - Catholicism included.
But, sure as hell, I'm not observing Lent.
Maybe I should round up this rant with a little amusing tale of the kiddie variety, hmmm?
Last spring, I got an anxious call from the director of M's daycare. It appears that, very accidentally, one of the caregivers had purchased some craft supplies that were in some way notably christian. My child, on seeing them, first admired the beautiful colour scheme and then advised: "My mother isn't going to be happy about this. She really doesn't approve of Jesus." When the teachers then scuffled to round up the craft stuff stat - it is a specifically non partisan organization - M told them not to worry, that she was making her craft on behalf of her American Girl doll who "has religion". Phew...
Of course, I wouldn't have said a thing about the craft supplies. I really don't care if they are Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic or anything else. I'm just glad the daycare puts together thoughtful aftercare programs and treats the kids with openness and respect.
But Jesus, kids say the damnedest things.