I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Here Again

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a 40 some day period of penance, abstience and preparation for Easter. For some reason 40 signifies the time that is required for discipline, testing, and separation prior to achieving a goal or new beginning. It is also the time that Jesus spent in the desert. But don’t challenge me on that. Like a good Catholic I know little about my own religion.

Lent comes quicker than I want it to every year and I observe it as I have for the past 15 years in the same way. My penance has remained the same through time with a few variations, of course.

In the beginning my penance was to abstain from smoking and drinking for the whole 40 some days. When I gave up smoking permanently I continued to abstain from drinking. Since my drinking now only includes wine, I give up wine.

It is no longer a religious penance though. It is how it started but it is not what it is anymore. Although I believe that penance and discipline are good for the soul, mind and body, I don’t hold God liable for my success. I no longer offer to give up something for something. I don’t believe God will grant or deny me a wish based on how long I went without a drink.

I don’t drink for a period of time because I decide that I am not going to. It is my check and balance, it keeps me in control and not controlled. If I followed some traditions, I could have a drink every Sunday but I don’t, the same way that I haven’t had a cigarette since that day on April 2001 and if one day during the following 47 days I decide that I am going to have my wine, I will and there is no shame or sin in it. I’d simply choose to.

I observe Lent in my own way for my own reasons, none that anyone would need to understand. I don’t look for a pat on the back but I don’t seek the criticism either. So if I am seen with a glass of seltzer in my hand or a glass of wine, if no one is paying for it, no one has anything to say about it. Maybe a good penance would be to abstain from criticizing my choices.