For most of my life, I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding the conventional Christian observations of Lent. While others have struggled to sacrifice caffeine, or sweets, or alcohol, or whatever, I’ve generally ducked and done my own thing. Which is to say, I’ve basically behaved and ingested the way I always do.
As a result, I’ve never really appreciated Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. But I do now. On the eve of another liver-and-colon cleanse, I’m relishing pancakes for breakfast, a thick turkey sandwich for lunch, lots of fruit, and plenty of decaf coffee to fill in all of the spaces in between. And I’ve only begun to dream about some big plate of animal at dinner. Because starting tomorrow, it’ll be a gradually more stringent diet, until I’m only eating water, whole grains, and vegetables.
All of which has me thinking a lot about the effectiveness of deprivation as a means toward discipline– I mean, if you averaged out my fat week that ends tomorrow with the lean weeks to follow, the total diet might not be considered too ‘healthy’. And certainly, our last attempt at a cleansing diet (for Advent) went from ‘faltering’ to ‘practically nonexistent’ inside two weeks, a quick victim of a simple lack of resolve. But I expect that each effort at discipline gives me one more little foothold to enable me to choose what is more beneficial on a daily basis. Or at least I hope it does, since I’m obviously quite accomplished at indulgence, rationalization, and feasting.