I feel relieved when Ash Wednesday roles around each year. I don’t get Lent jokes, I like Lent. I get that giving up things, and taking on things, and trying harder is, well, hard. But not having Lent would be worse.
Lent says that maybe something different is possible. Maybe where we are isn’t where we have to stay. Maybe our present is not our irrevocable destiny. Lent is a friend come to say that we won’t get it right, do it right, or be it right as much as we might like, but it’s worth trying anyway. Change is possible.
I believe in creative Lents. It’s not that I’ve never given up chocolate, but I have no outstanding memories of those years. The year I gave up sarcasm, it almost struck me dumb. For forty days, I had almost nothing to say. It shook my insides like I could hardly get my footing inside of me. But it wasn’t a bad shaking. I felt like I was becoming more of me. I saw a crutch that needed to be set down, (or at least converted to a walking stick).
This year I am attempting criticism, giving it up, that is. Wary from the speech deprived sarcasm experience, I am selecting a few candidates for full reprieve, and the rest of the world for mere reductions. I feel a bit of panic setting in with the day actually upon us. I worry that my candidates will feel lost without my guidance (or worse yet, they won’t even notice.) The sun has yet to rise, but already I miss my advice. It feels like I’ll be calling in sick and they’ll all be floundering around trying to make do, only I won’t be up faint and fevered on my bed, I’ll be right there watching things going every which way wrong and no one will be doing anything about it.
I wonder about tacking up lists (a few common sources of perpetual error on the doorposts between the rooms) but this may prove awkward in the spirit of things. I wouldn’t be saying . . . you put your coffee cup in the wrong sink, I would instead be dashing to doorposts, trying to bang my head just so on item four until somebody noticed. Which with all the banging that boy one is doing these days, would probably be never.
So we sally forth. Little ships setting out, imagining storms and high seas, while we navigate the tiny space of forty days. We’ll untangle rigging, and steer it all wrong, but God willing and the creek don’t rise, we’ll at least get her out of the harbour.