This Is How Jamey Karr Does Lent, How Do You Do It?
Melissa and I are both Catholic and observe the celebration of the crucifixion and return of Jesus. The 40-ish day period before Easter,begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts until Easter Sunday. Days of fasting, mandatory services, are on tap for Catholics but the most well known, is "giving it up for Lent."
You may see people walking around town, with a dark spot on their foreheads. Fear not. Where do the ashes come from? Traditionally, ashes used on Ash Wednesday are gathered up after palms from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. They are then blessed before being used in the ceremony.
My wife is protestant, as are many of my friends, and some enjoy the idea of giving up something for the Lent season. The idea is to pick something about yourself, you'd like to change. A vice or habit, that keeps you from better communication with the Lord Almighty.
I've chosen to give up soft drinks. Sonic Drive Ins in Amarillo expect to see me everyday for Happy Hour. I like to joke that, if we don't tell the Sonic folks we're leaving town for the week, they call to make sure we're OK. Carhops know me by name.
Soft drinks are comfort food for me. My favorite brand helps me deal with nausea, and of course, the caffeine jolt, we all need during the day. This will be simple for me, as I'll trade ice tea (no sugar) for soft drinks.
There are folks who delve a little further than I do. Across Amarillo this morning, there are people smoking their last cigarette today. Maybe until Easter, hopefully forever.
I have a friend who wants to go Vegetarian and will give up meat, every day until Easter Sunday. Amarillo is a tough place to do that, with steakhouses and barbecue joints within a mile of where we all work or live. How do they survive the 40 day period? "Spicy Mike's Bar-B-Haven" took the challenge of keeping the Catholic folks coming in on Fridays, by offering smoked salmon. it's really good and he only does it during Lent.
Red Lobster and Scott's Oyster Bar are packed on Lent Fridays. Mexican restaurants push their cheese dishes like enchiladas, nachos, and chile rellenos. That's always the occasion to drive to Tulia and eat at the El Camino.
Another friend, who swears like a 20 year Navy man, is going to give up using "bad words." I've known this guy since I was 16, and I can't wait to see how this goes.
Pope Francis made a few suggestions for people looking to give up something for Lent as part of fasting and it could work for all of us, Catholic or not, believer or not.
1. Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
2. Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
3. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
4. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
5. Fast from grudges, selfishness, bitterness and be filled with joy.
There is really nothing complicated about any of this. It's choosing to make one's self, a better person.
Will you be giving up something for Lent? You don't have to tell us what it is, unless you want to.