One of Christianity’s major seasons has just begun, with Lent starting today and leading up to the four days of Easter. Now I’m not a religious person myself, so the actual events about to take place don’t really affect me. But I am happy to go along with them for the sake of many of my friends. Not that I would want to participate – I would consider that to be an insult to them and belittling to what will be happening as well. I can appreciate the importance of it all though, to those who believe and I am happy to respect them for their spiritual sincerity.
On the other hand, as a disbeliever, I can appreciate that there can be a humorous side to even the most serious occasion; one only has to go to a modern funeral these days to see how the priest officiating will more often than not incorporate a little humour into the service, celebrating the life of the deceased, rather than simply mourning their death, as was the tendency until quite recently.
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While writing the above, I started wondering about what some people might want to give up for Lent, whether they were Christians, or people perhaps leaning a little towards my thinking. The original concept of Lent was that it was the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, fasting and self-denial, leading up to the tragedy and resurrection of Jesus, but of course, except in the case of the most devout who still follow the teachings of the Bible, the period has become at most a time for serious thought, and for others just a time for a bit of a holiday.
For those who take any action at all, there would of course, be the ‘normal’ resolutions, pretty well identical to the New Year ones, such as giving up smoking, drinking less, going on a diet and taking exercise instead of food, all pretty simplistic stuff, but at least not harming anyone!! As with almost any human endeavour, you will always get the few ‘whackies’, people who want their moment of fame on YouTube, or want embarrass a friend, or annoy a neighbour.
In the most extreme cases, it’s not unknown for people to give up wearing clothes for Lent, only to be surprised and angered when the police decide this is not the way to act in the local shopping centre. Or others, the very extreme will paint themselves with vegetable dyes during the period – they often finish up in a tattooists parlour, something they then regret for the rest of their lives! There was a woman, many years ago in England who loved chocolate and stopped eating it for Lent – she didn’t waste the product though, she melted bars and painted herself with it, so that she could see just what it was she was giving up.
I imagine a lot of people take the opportunity to give up things that they hate anyway, but have to put up with for the rest of the year; work for instance, or business clothes, too tight and tailored to be at all comfortable, but demanded because of their profession. Or they might give up taking the dog for his late night walk and go off to bed instead (poor dog!). One thing I have never heard of though, is anyone prepared to give up sex for Lent – I guess that would be asking just too much!
I’m sure readers will have many more imaginative ideas about the penance of Lent, why not tell the rest of us what you do, or would like to do, or you know is done by someone else. The mind boggles at the opportunities! What is the most unusual thing someone has given