Well, people, here it is. It's happening again, just like it does every year.
This year it has been minus the pancakes on Mardi Gras and minus the ashes on Ash Wednesday. That's today bee tee dubs.
Two of the major markers for creating a successful beginning to Lent. I hate to admit it, but the reason these things have been left out this year is that I cannot afford the gas to travel to receive the pancakes and the ashes. Gas is $3.45/gallon. I have only a part-time job. And bills to pay. It's sad, but true. And this poor, unfortunate soul can't afford to work in Collierville, live in East Memphis, and make it to church Downtown 4 times this week. I understand that a lot people make longer and more dramatic commutes daily, but I'm probably lazy. And if I run out of gas, I'm out of gas. It's not like I can just hop on a bus like I might be able to in another city.
So, I'm participating in Lent the way that the rest of the world does: by not being at church every single day. By literally keeping it to/with myself and God. Just because I didn't get to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday--wait wait wait--just because I didn't sweat over griddles on the stove showing kids how to make the perfect pancake (don't you dare squash it with your spatula. It's not a hamburger), string up gaudy Mardi Gras decorations, or eat my weight in sausage, doesn't mean that Mardi Gras was any less meaningful or fun. It was still the day to totally gorge myself on delicious treats in preparation for some sort of physical discipline for Lent.
Yesterday I was mindful of what I would like to be mindful of during Lent. And today, just because I didn't hear the words "Remember you are butt dust" and get a thumb full of ashes on my forehead doesn't mean that I didn't think about the temporality and shortness of my life. And since my life will be so short, why not spend it with God? Why not do the things that bring us together in a good relationship? Why waste time indulging myself with every little physical treat that I encounter, when God is there, waiting for me and loving me? Well, because I'm a human being. And this Lent, I'm going to focus on just that: what it means to be human. No "giving up" anything to supposedly make myself a little more divine. But really understanding my humanity, and why I was created to be a human and not a bird or a rock or a snail. More than that, I'd like to use this time to discern what I am created to DO. With my mind, my heart, my body, my spirit. I'd like to try some disciplines to come closer to that. Without forgetting that everything is spiritual.
I'd like to make one good photograph a day during Lent. By the end, I should have 40 good photographs. That's kindof a lot. I haven't felt good about a photograph in a while. I make a lot of them, but none that I want to look at for longer than a glance. I'd like to say that I'll blog each one every day, but I don't want to commit too heavily. Plus, I'll be using film as well as digital and I won't be able to post every day. But I want to take the time to be truly thoughtful about each photo I take, and even go out of my way to do that. Every day. Lately I've gone weeks without picking up my camera. And it has been months since I made a picture just because.
I feel like that's a pretty big discipline. So that's the Lenten action I'm going to stick to this year. I hope you might think about doing something that will be good for you and God, too, if you're into that. Or if you're not, just keep in mind that you are loved and since you are worth so much, it could be good to try and discover what it is about you that makes you so good. And human.
Here's a picture that I went out of my way to get. So here's to hoping I go way out of my way to get the good ones that remind me why it was worth it to not be able to afford gas.