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every year for lent i give up meat. every other year i give up alcohol as well.
i do this in part for health reasons - even though i am free range only when it comes to meat, i feel clensed by the practice of annually reducing my meat intake by so much.
i do this in part for ecology reasons - it is more sustainable to eat less meat.
i do this in part because the process of choosing food for each meal without eating something keeps me mindful and disciplined. i become mindful of the choice, and how all my choices echo out into the world. i am mindful of God and the nature of sacrifice and the nature of relationships and how they require maintenance and work, and how i want to fight my tendency to forget God and others and become wrapped up in my day-to-day life. i feel clensed in my body - purged of toxicity. i remember that i want to stay aware of my life and not let it pass me by unnoticed, with choices made thoughtlessly.
when lent is over it feels a real celebration of life. a celebration of the bounty God has given his children on this planet. a celebration of relationships and the work they involve, but also the payoff that for once is greater than the work put in. the law of conservation of energy/mass is true everywhere except in love. it is the one thing that can produce more than is put into it.

now you might ask why don't i live this way all the time if it makes me feel so clean?
in truth it is because i believe the novelty and purposefulness of it is why it works. if i lived this way all the time, it wouldn't mean as much to me during lent. but there is another reason as well. my friends jerad and rachel reminded me yesterday that every sunday during lent is a "little easter"; a feast day when we are not required to fast or adhere to whatever resolution we have made. this is something i knew, it is part of the teachings of john wesley and many other theolgians. what i didn't know is that it goes further than permission to eat whatever i want on sunday. it is considered blasphemous to CONTINUE to fast on sunday; to refuse to take part of the bounty God has provided. to acknowledge the gifts God has given his children.
now surely this doesn't mean all vegetarians should eat meat on sunday, nor is it liscense to do things that are destructive. this is not about the specific thing anyone does for lent. this is about giving oneself permission to take part in the joy of life and acknowledging the good creation all around us. it is about rest and it is about accepting that God's love for us continues through the lean times. with the discipline of relationship there is reward and love. in every night there is the promise of dawn. there must be balance even in discipline. so many people see lent as austere and morbid, but truly it is a celebration of our potential for change. God has made us capable of fixing the things in our lives we want to make better, and given us a season to remind us to pay attention.
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it's shrove tuesday! the day on which we must do many things for which to be shriven!
i love the coming of lent and look forward to it every year.
it feels cleansing to me to give up meat and booze and focus on my spiritual life.
i also love shrove tuesday.
my favorite one so far was one i celebrated with[livejournal.com profile] jtheta and [livejournal.com profile] durlindana over at eli wiggin's apartment in annapolis.
there was much booze and lentil salad. it was very good.


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August 2009

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