In a world that’s beyond fast-paced, where news is instant and everyone is hyper-connected, when change is not just daily but moment-by-moment, I crave constancy. There’s a certain peace that comes with routine, with the assurance that some things will not change, not at their core, at least. I think that’s why I like Ash Wednesday so much.
From when I was just a little kid in a scratchy school uniform to this evening when I go to Mass, I know what’s going to happen. The familiar scent of the ashes, the church decked in purple, the same dirge-like music…it’s all there, just the same. And it’s comforting, these rituals; makes me feel like, despite all the crises in the church, there is hope and strength in these traditions that bind us together in faith and love.
So I like my Catholic traditions, even if some of ’em have fallen by the wayside over the years. Like giving up something for Lent. Holy Sister Mary Joseph, I used to give up something every year, even before I knew why. Mostly, it was chocolate back then, which made Easter morning baskets all the sweeter.
But as the years progressed, I’ve quit most of the easy vices to give up, or I don’t indulge enough to make giving ’em up meaningful. Now I’m left with the tougher ones on that Seven Deadly Sins list. Like pride, avarice, envy, sloth… for cryin’ out loud, how do you give up pride? And if I gave up sloth, does that mean I’d have to give up my naps? I LOVE MY NAPS.
I pondered this problem in my latest post over at The Muffin in “Giving Up to Get More.”And though it’s about how we can give up certain bad habits to become better writers, they’re bad habits that affect us in more ways than writing. They’re the kind of bad habits that keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves, whether that’s a writer or a mom or a salesperson.
So I’m giving up my Debbie Downer habit this Lent (according to Youngest Junior Hall, I start first thing in the morning by reading out all the bad news from the paper. I also read the wacky news and Dear Abby but fine, I’ll keep the latest on the coronavirus to myself).
I was about to say it’s not going to be easy but see? There’s that negativism cropping up already and I haven’t even gotten my ashes yet. Pray for me, y’all, it’s going to be a long Lent!