I was born into the Catholic faith, like most Mexicans. I would not however, consider myself a practicing Catholic or a practicing anything for that matter, only a practicing human. That being said, there are certain austerities in each religion that I have always found fascinating and for the most part when done sincerely, have found very beneficial for me.
One of those happens to be lent, which started last Wednesday. Lent is traditionally a season of penance and alms giving. And even though as a child I hated participating, always trying to find sneaky ways to get rid of the ashes on my forehead and complaining about eating fish on Fridays; as an adult I have found it a great time of reflection and renewal.
Lent is an unusual fast as in the practitioner chooses what they will fast from. Yes, there are some food restrictions, but nothing compared to fasting traditions in other faiths. Many people use this time to get rid of bad habits; giving up McDonald's, chocolate, or any other vices that they deem fit or more importantly doable. In the past I have given up cheeseburgers, coffee, and online shopping. This year I decided to give up two things, one quite serious and the other quite silly.
Since I have been a vegetarian for 7 years now, I don’t find any true sacrifice in giving up food. I don’t indulge as much as I did in the earlier part of my life. I also don’t shop as much as I once did so no need to restrict any of those activities. What I am need of is a an inner re-boot.
In the past couple months I have lost control of my emotions and have let them dictate my life in a very unhealthy way. Being alone as much as I am has made my inner monologue my outer dialogue with others. What this means is I say EVERYTHING I am thinking with no filter and without really thinking about the audience or the ramifications of the things said. So, as part of my lent practice, I have decided to shut up. I have let my ego get in the way of so much lately, and I need to listen to what others are telling me. This will be an intense 40 days, of that I am sure. But, I know it is the right thing to do. It helps that this is supported by the love I have for someone, but even more so for the desire I have to grow as a person.
Now on to the silly sacrifice. I am not proud of it, but I read horoscopes...A LOT. And not in the “let’s chuckle about this” way. Recently it had just gotten out of hand. In reality, none of it really has come to fruition, and it just causes me stress and worry. Even if what the horoscope says is good, I just start to dwell on it. Basically, I was robbing myself of free will. So I was feeling miserable and making others feel miserable for something that wasn’t even true. How does that make any sense? So what better time to excise something out of your life than lent? And even though we are barely 5 days into it, I can’t express the relief I feel.
Transformations don’t have a prescribed incubation time, they can happen whenever. The next 40 days are sure to be quite eye opening. I have no idea what the final outcome will be, and you know what…that’s okay. Because what this is really about is taking a moment of silence to appreciate where I am at, what I have, who I am with, and let all that sink in.