Lent 2013

Holy cow, where has the time gone?

Ok – I know… regardless of how many Sci Fi books I read, how many episodes of Andromeda or Star Trek (in its various incarnations) I watch, or how much I really love The Doctor…

Time moves as it always has, and always will. Yup.

But still, time manages to surprise us by its absence, doesn’t it?

So realizing that today is Ash Wednesday, and that we’re embarking on Lent already for another year does freak me out a little. After all, I hear “Lent” and I immediately start thinking “Easter.”

Nope. Not the same. Beginning of Lent is nowhere near Easter. Nope.

Which brings us to the question that I seem to hear as much as “So what’s your New Year’s Resolution?” Ah yes, the ever-popular…

“So, what are YOU giving up for Lent?” 

Usually followed on Facebook by some comedic banter, witty retorts, and (more and more, I’m glad to say) some sincere responses.

And don’t get me wrong – it’s totally alright to joke about giving up ‘giving up things for Lent’ for Lent. Or something like brussels sprouts, which you wouldn’t catch me eating on even a really bad day. That’s all good fun, and I certainly make my own share of them. If you’re going to deny yourself something until Easter, you at least have the right to laugh about it, dagnabit.

But there is a serious side to the question, and a serious answer. And my answer is, as I believe it was last year, not about what I’m giving up but rather what I’m taking on, what I’m striving for.

But last year was a little vague. Good, but vague. This year, I’m a little older, slightly wiser (in a faltering, Goofyesque type of way), and more needy. I’ve been through some major shifting this past year, I’ve learned new things about myself, and I’m still trying to puzzle out how those lessons become part of my story, my now, so that the good things I’ve tried to learn become not just memories and experiences, but things that refined me and pushed me a little further down my path.

So my Lenten focus is a little clearer. And again, it’s not so much about what I’m “giving up,” but rather what I’m taking on, what I’m focusing on. To use Lent as a reminder, every time I say no to something or choose another path, that the reason I’m doing it is to submit to the One who gave it all up for me.

So, for Lent, I’m going Paleo.

“As usual Cal, you’ve managed to take an almost poignant moment of spiritual meaning and throw it down the crack of absurdity.”

Thank ya. Thank ya very muchhhhh. Uh huh! 

“Shall we assume that you’re going to use one of your favorite phrases here, ‘lemme ‘splain’?”

Why yes, you can certainly assume that. And thank you for setting up the recurring gag so eloquently.

During my 9 month retail career, I gained about 30 pounds. A significant number for anyone to gain, but for me it’s a huge red flag that things are way, w-a-a-y out of balance and control. With my redecorated innards, gaining that much weight means that I’m really not doing my job, and that some major shifting has to happen, lest that number get bigger and bigger along with me getting bigger and bigger.

I’ve already burned my membership card in the 400 Plus Club, and I have no intention of requesting a new one. I don’t even want to see the junk mail from the 300 Plus Club, and as for the Over 250 Club? I might be camping on your doorstep, but I ain’t gonna knock.

Besides, if I get over 300, I exceed the weight limit on my beloved trike, Big Blue. “That shall not (come to) pass!”

So, Paleo.

Essentially, it’s this: “Eat only things a caveman could eat.” If it can be killed and dragged home, if it can be picked, plucked, or dug and eaten, it’s fair game. If it has to be processed, refined, sifted, sorted, or fiddled with (other than cooking it to make it safe to eat, of course), it’s not fair game.

Meat = very good. Beans = very good. Veggies = good. Fruits = good. Grains = bad (for the most part). Dairy = meh (depends on if you’re Orthodox Paleo or Reformed Paleo…).

Sugar = Dark Lord of the Sith BAD.

And that last one is where it bites me in the hiney… I ingest way WAY too much sugar for someone with my history, especially as a (and I quote) “former diabetic who still possesses diabetic potential if your weight were to return.” Not to mention what sugar does to my present anatomy.

Oi vey. With a bullet.

The only thing that creates more havoc in my little tum-tum is a carbonated beverage. If sugar is a Dark Lord of the Sith, soda (even diet soda) is a whole cotton-pickin’ Death Star load of ’em. And a diet COLA? Pretty much the whole Imperial army, including the little two-legged walkie-shooty-thingies that get smunched when the Ewoks let loose the two logs to smack together with it in the middle.

Why yes, I have watched a few of those movies a few times. How did you guess?

So, Paleo.

In a nutshell, (’cause nuts ARE Paleo, in moderation) it’s a low carb diet, with more veggies and fruit. And more awesomeness. And a side of refried beans. Sour cream optional, but since I’m Reformed and not Orthodox, bring it.

Returning to the poignant spiritual moment previously launched into the crack of absurdity, the way it all sums up for me in this Lenten season, is this…

For Lent, I’m going to make mindful choices to walk away from the carbs I overload with, to get back to the basics of how my new physiology operates best, and to return to those careful, thoughtful behaviors that ensure my new life will continue to be lived as God has called me to live it.

And each time I turn away from a bagel or a candy bar, each time I choose the right path, every time I deny myself something that appeals to my senses but would damage my health, I’ll remember that I’m walking this path because of the path Jesus walked for me, and use the opportunity to remember that my little piddly “sacrifices” aren’t even worth comparing to His. They’re important, they’re significant in the here and now, but compared to Christ? *hangs head*

Like Advent, Lent is more of a mindful journey for me. It’s not about what I got rid of for 40 days (or however many), but rather the place my path has ended up when I reach Easter. Every choice I make along the way, between now and then, is a reminder of that path. It is about denial, but not about developing pride about that denial, lest I become one of the religious folks Jesus opened up a big ol’ can of whoop bottom on.

So yes, you will probably see me putting sugar in my coffee. (And some sort of creamer – again, I’m Reformed Paleo, not Orthodox. You REALLY don’t want to require me to grow a crazy David Crowderesque beard – it’d take 15 years, and would still look like a rotting pelt from a deranged chipmunk…) But I probably won’t be washing my coffee down with a cookie. A thin crust pizza from Gus’ Originals? Probably, but no cheesy bread to go with it. Abstinence in some things, moderation in others.

The point is, the mindful in-the-moment thought that went into each choice. And remembering Who calls me to my ReBorn life – His choices, His denial, His acceptance, His sacrifice.

Welcome to Lent, brothers and sisters.

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