Few of my friends understand my affection for Lent (those 40 days of deprivation observed by Catholics and many Christian denominations between Ash Wednesday and Easter), but I tell them I appreciate Lent because it’s a seasonal holiday. The word “Lent” itself comes from the same root word as “lengthen” and refers to the hours of daylight that grow longer during the season of spring. Lent is a time of rapid, visible, and dramatic growth in the natural world: “the force,” as Dylan Thomas puts it, “that through the green fuse drives the flower.” So why not ally with this powerful force and use its energy to make changes in your life?
When I was a child, we gave up things like candy, catsup, or TV shows. As an adult, I have given up dairy, alcohol, and sugar for various Lents, always with interesting results. This year I’m thinking about giving up TV or Facebook or maybe just eating out. What would it be like to cook all my meals at home for the next six weeks?
The good news is that Lent lasts for only 40 days, so you don’t have to give something up forever. And you don’t even have to give anything up. You could use Lent to make positive changes, for instance meditating or going to the gym or practicing the piano every day. I have to admit (it must be the Catholic influence again) I find it easier to give things up than to adopt new habits. Remember if you give up something for Lent (and even if you don’t) you can and should overindulge on Mardi Gras (Tuesday, February 17) and celebrate on Easter (April 5).
Waverly Fitzgerald is a writer, teacher, and calendar priestess who has studied the lore of holidays and the secrets of time for decades. She shares her research and her thoughts on her Living in Season website and in her book, Slow Time. She is currently working on a series of essays about looking for nature in the city and blogs for the Seattle PI as the “Urban Naturalist.”
Last chance to select your favorite 2015 calendar!