If you were reading my blog last year you might remember that I decided to go vegetarian for Lent, allowing my spiritual body to focus on and look towards the death of Jesus by not allowing any death into my physical body. I feel very much like that was a worthwhile exercise last year, and I’d love to talk to any of you about it sometime. I learned some interesting things about how my body works and the cravings I have without realizing I have them, and also about the prevalence of easy, cheap meat.
This year I’ve decided not to become vegetarian during Lent. The main reason for this is because since I live at home I’m not responsible for buying my own food. Last year my mom and I figured out ways to work around my vegetarianism by adding new things to the menu or cutting certain ingredients out of familiar dishes, and there were also many times where I just bought my own food if I was at school late (this led to find a really fantastic little vegan restaurant near the University). But I’ve decided that I don’t want my Lenten practices to impose on someone else, so I’m going to hold off on the 40 days of vegetarianism until I am buying my own food. I still think it’s something I will do throughout my life during this season of the church calendar. Another reason is that my grandfather’s 90th birthday is at the end of this month, and a large part of my extended family is coming into town for it so we’re having a big family reunion cookout. Again, I don’t want my vegetarianism to impose on the preparations for that, especially since I have no moral reservations about eating meat in general.
What I’ll be doing instead is picking up two practices. One will be tithing, now that I am working and have some money. I will be glad to give part of the money I’ve been blessed with to this small church I’ve found a home in, and the beginning of my job coincides with the beginning of Lent. I will also be attempting to have a daily time of centering prayer and meditation. I’ve done centering prayer before on a weekly basis and found it to be one of the most valuable spiritual practices I’ve ever done, but I’ve gotten out of doing it regularly. I’m hoping to give myself 20 minutes or so every night before I go to sleep, to think about the day and focus on how I can be more mindful the next day. I’m interested to see how this affects the way I interact with people on a daily basis, especially now that I’m subbing and have to deal with students every day.
If you’re looking for something to give up or begin during this Lent, I’d encourage you to try vegetarianism or centering prayer. Both are the kind of inward spiritual practices that might help you begin to focus on the world around you and the divine idea in it. If you’ve never done anything for Lent before, you might like to try it. The church calendar is an important thing that is forgotten a lot these days.
If you’re not a Christian, that’s fine too. I’m pretty sure McDonald’s doesn’t ask for religious affiliation when they sell you a Filet-O-Fish, on sale every year during Lent.