Around the same time, my multi-tasking mind recalled I hadn't watched a video my daddy had sent about nature. Keeping the parenthetical notation above in mind, I opened it, letting my mind ponder how I'd gone from a curious Baptist interested in her Catholic friends' devout practices to a member of a Presbyterian church where Lenten sacrifices are not only discussed, but encouraged.
Watching the video, I was reminded of some of the reasons why I think Lent is important, regardless of denomination.
First, the video:
Now, a few reasons why Lent is important to me:
1. Sacrifice sharpens us. We never know when we'll need a skill, like being able to run fast, or spot a hole to climb in, or take a deep breath and think clearly. Maybe I've read too much Hunger Games.... Anyway, discipline can't hurt, right?2. Sacrifice reminds us to be thankful. There may be better ways to learn appreciation than to go without even small things, and even for a short periods of time, but I'm not sure what those ways are.3. Sacrifice reminds us we're not alone. Do I sometimes feel alone, like the only squirrel being chased down by the mean hawk? Well, naturally. I'm guessing many of us do. But is it possible for there to be one little squirrel in the forest? Doubtful. You and I are one of many, and can share so much. We just have to allow ourselves to.4. Sacrifice makes celebration sweeter. This fact, in the land of carnival and king cake known as the deep South, seems like such a no-brainer. But I think sometimes especially in the midst of such excess we need the reminder of why it all exists even more. It's not just a party for tourists. There's a story behind it, and come Easter, the real celebration is more heartfelt and glorious than any masquerade ball or parade could ever hope to present itself.
Baptist or Catholic, atheist or non-denominational, Presbyterian or Methodist, none of us are strangers to the feeling of being a small squirrel that is chased down by a ruthless hawk. Our inboxes fill with stress. Bank accounts remind us of our weaknesses. There are days when rather than blessings, our cups runneth over with relationship problems, health concerns, or repercussions from decisions we made ten years ago. No one is immune to parenting mistakes. No one can escape fears of the future. Hawks come in all shapes and sizes, and whether or not we believe there's a God or Lent is something we should partake in, we can't evade pressure.
We can, however, sharpen ourselves. We can meditate on what is true and just and pure. We can prepare ourselves for what may come our way. We can see what sacrifice feels like and appreciate what others (in my case, Jesus on the cross) have done for us.
So that's why I choose to keep getting myself into this Lent situation.
Because I'm far less prepared than any squirrel, and since every day brings a new hawk, it's clear this squirrel of a girl needs to take every opportunity to get busy sharpening skills and counting blessings.