Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I Survived Lent

Easter Sunday not only marked the end of Holy Week but the end of Lent as well. Lent is roughly the forty days between two of the happiest days on Earth: Mardi Gras and Easter Sunday. Happy for two entirely different reasons for sure, but two days known for celebration.

The idea of Lent is spiritual preparation for Holy Week through various means, like prayer and fasting and sacrifice. No-one's killing anything these days, so we sacrifice a bad habit or vice. Why forty days? It's a symbolic number meaning the right amount of time. Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years [apparently maps and directions were hard to come by]. Jesus reportedly fasted in the desert for forty days before starting his ministry that upended everything.

Luckily, we aren't required to go to any deserts, although a trip to Burning Man would certainly qualify as a spiritual experience [yes it's on my bucket list]. So instead we give up something as a reminder to focus even more on our spirituality. If nothing else, some folks start praying for the forty days to go faster because no-one should go that long without chocolate. Not really how it works, but baby-steps right? In Unity the focus is not simply giving something up, but in the tradition of denials and affirmations, we also embrace a practice to lift our consciousness. It may be more prayer or meditation, extra acts of kindness, you get the idea.

My sacrifice was related to social media. I chose to give up ranting and complaining and posting mundane things, instead only posting the affirming and the uplifting. It took about two weeks for the twitter withdrawal to subside. I sorely missed my Foursquare check-in's. I also realized I was tweeting less...a whole lot less. Sometimes days would go by without updating. It dawned upon me that I needed to spend more time looking for good and uplifting things to tweet about. It was more a matter of focus than just drifting.

They say it takes 21 days to change a habit, so at the end of 40 I shouldn't have a desire to return to my former routine, right? Hardly. I admit it: I checked in on Foursquare yesterday with a huge sigh of relief. But it's also true that the increased mindfulness I obtained is still there and I get to practice that as well.

So if you also observed and survived Lent, a big w00t! to you. Don't forget too soon why you did it though. Make it count.