I posed this question several years ago to two of my then work colleagues, who were, I believe 5 years younger. They, male and female, turned to each other with deep frowns marking their foreheads. Dumbfounded, they leaned over to me and asked, "What are you talking about?"
It was now my turn to be dumbfounded. "Are you serious?"
"Lent- you know the 40 days after Ash Wednesday that lead up to Easter?" Still, they looked like I was literally speaking another language, even squinting at me, like I probably wasn't even human.
The conversation did not go any further- by their request, and I was really shocked.
Even though spirituality is of paramount importance to me, I have never really held on to institutionalised religious dogmas or rituals. At least I thought so.
But, I was raised in a home where, even though both of my parents weren't "church folk", Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season were always acknowledged. And in doing so, the ritual of wearing primarily dark clothes, no pork, or loud music was followed. Also, in keeping with the meaning of Lent, it went without saying that individually we would dedicate ourselves to eliminating something deemed important from our daily lives.
In my younger days that was music. I could listen to it in my sleep. But every Lenten Season I forced myself to give it up particularly any explicit, or even nuanced songs. Back in the day before all this internet and TV stuff, almost everyone I knew would unwind to The Mellow Mood and unfortunately for me, during Lent, I had to miss out on that.
Some years, I didn't do music: I would do dairy or some other dietary restraint. And I took it seriously, but for the life of me, now, I don't even understand why.
Like I said, my parents are by no means, "church folk". In fact, sad to say, I really cannot remember a time going to Church with either of them- only my sister.
Nonetheless, the tradition of penance, suffering and reflection in Lent was and is a part of my life.
I've tried hard to find the reason for this and I believe that I have found two.
My mother- I know, I know, I know. She ain't no church girl in her grown years, but she did grow up in a culture, where Ash Wednesday was as important a marked day as the two days that came before it, if you know what I mean. What came before Ash Wednesday was as spiritual an event as Lent. So Lent was just a continuation of her spirituality albeit expressed in a religious orthodox way.
And if you know people of that culture, especially back in the day, they take that very seriously. So much so that during this festive weekend on realising Ash Wednesday was near, she came abruptly into my bedroom lamenting.
"Oh gosh nuh, gimme something for mi soul. I need to read mi Bible."
It is the same line every year with the same tone of anxiety that she will not be ready for Ash Wednesday. So, I guess we get it from her. I don't know.
The second reason is, my birthday. I am an April Aries. And traditionally, the month before one's birthday, which really is the start of your personal New Year, reflective hibernating is necessary to really get clear about the year ahead and what you want the year to be for you. Lent helps me to get my head sorted without all of the noise and distraction.
And those are the reasons why I believe Lent matters to me and the tradition of giving something up.
So... what will I be giving up this year for Lent?
Hmmm... I still have a few more hours to decide; but I think it is going to be something dietary in keeping with my Fitness Challenge for 2014.
What will you be giving up? Drop me a line and let me know
Petra Marie…Inspired Be