Somehow the Lenten season crept up on me this year. On Fat Tuesday, someone asked me what I was giving up, and I didn’t have any idea. My friend, Chris, is giving up chocolate, I’ve already done that. I have another friend giving up bread and pasta, but I am already on a diet that restricts bread and pasta to very small amounts, so that seemed a little bit like cheating. My friend’s husband is giving up alcohol. Hmmm, no. I thought I might add something charitable. In recent years, I have made weekly donations to my church food bank and loaned money every week on Kiva, but I couldn’t decide what my charitable deeds might be this year.
All this thinking about what to add or give up, made me think about what I gave up growing up. I honestly can’t remember. I have in my mind that what you give up should be hard to give up. And it shouldn’t be something you should give up anyway. You can’t give up ice cream if you are overweight, or give up smoking if you are a smoker, etc…So surely I gave up candy at least once. Every Sunday after church, we went to a little store to buy the Sunday paper and we got to buy some kind of candy–and if we were really lucky a, comic book.(Yes, I’m old.) But it was the highlight of my week and that is the only thing I can think up that would have been hard to give up then.
The other thing I remember is that we were given mite boxes in Sunday School when Lent started. We were to put money for the poor in the boxes. They were made of thin cardboard, it seems like they had a little peaked roof on top. They were heavy enough to hold up to the weight of the coins we put in them, but light enough that they might tear if you were to try to retrieve a coin from them. I think you could go house-to-house to collect, but I was already traumatized by having to go house-to-house to sell candy for school. So it was whatever change I could cajole out of my parents or any change I might have left over from my allowance went in the mite box.
It was hard for me because it seemed like my allowance evaporated shortly after I received it. It must have been really hard for my sister, Michelle, because she was incredibly good at not spending a cent unless it was absolutely necessary. Which is also why I had inhaled all my Easter candy by the end of Easter Sunday eating myself into a sugar coma, while my sister might nibble on an ear of her chocolate rabbit and would still have candy weeks later.
I don’t know why I give so much thought to what I give up now. There were a number of years that I gave up Lent for Lent, which is still a popular option for many. But as I have gotten older it has seemed more important to honor the sacrifice that has been made for me by making a real sacrifice.
Later that evening I was on Facebook still pondering what to add, when I saw my niece, Anna’s post saying she was giving up Facebook for Lent. Under the influence of a glass of wine, I decided to do the same thing. I posted a message letting my friends know I would not be wishing them Happy Birthday, ‘liking’ their status, or know what was going on in their lives (at least via Facebook) until Easter Sunday. Two of my friends immediately indicated they ‘liked’ my status. So, too late to reconsider and delete my post. OH MY, I AM GIVING UP FACEBOOK. It made me wonder if my friend, Laurie, was right. She said her priest told her Lent really lasts more than 40 days, so you have Sundays off from what ever it is you have pledged to give up. At the time I thought it was a little too lax, but now I am reconsidering.
Today was Day One of no Facebook. I don’t post that often, but I heard on the news this morning that it is National Margarita Day. I had the urge to post something about how that seems like it should have been celebrated on Fat Tuesday instead of Ash Wednesday. No posting today. In fact, I was only on my computer for seven minutes this morning to check my e-mail. It made me think about the mornings that I was just going to get on Facebook for a minute and then looked at the time and realized I had been on for 45 minutes, or an hour, or maybe longer. I love reading my friend’s posts, watching the videos they post, ‘liking’ their status, and occasionally adding my two cents to someone’s post. I IM my 14 year-old niece and play Wedding Street with her. But maybe I do spend too much time there.
I attended a session at a Job Ministry this morning and the subject was Identity Crisis and how your identity is revealed. One of the points, the L in reveal, was Life Details and how God uses signs to lead or redirect you to your purpose. Later I went to church, and the Ash Wednesday homily was about signs. The outward sign of the ash cross on your forehead, and the other signs of God and faith. He even talked about the Five Man Electrical Band song “Signs.” That made me smile…‘Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.’ I started to sense a pattern. I think I’ve been redirected away from Facebook to focus on something else in the next few weeks.
I haven’t heard “Signs” in a long, long time. So I looked up the lyrics and smiled again when I read the last verse:
And the sign said, “Everybody welcome. Come in, kneel down and pray”
But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn’t have a
penny to pay
So I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign
I said, “Thank you, Lord, for thinkin’ ’bout me. I’m alive and doin’ fine.”
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
So, I’ve given up Facebook for Lent and I’m looking for signs. Let me know what you are giving up for Lent, just don’t post it on Facebook because I won’t see it for weeks.
PS For my first Lenten meal I made Red Snapper Livornese from Rachel Ray’s recipe. It is super easy and, more importantly, I am a reluctant fish eater and I loved it! Here’s the link to the recipe.