Friday, March 13, 2009

A Lenten day

Crocuses and Lent seem synonymous for the coming of Spring. Harbingers of Easter and light.
Recently, my friend Maria asked me what I was doing for Lenten reading. I was flummoxed! I had never thought of Lenten reading. My ideas of Lenten sacrifice run more along the lines of “giving up Peeps” – those yummy little yellow chickies. The thought of reading some pious tome had minimal appeal. When I was in high school, during our annual retreat, we were all adjured to read appropriately edifying books. I would imagine that the girls who actually did this could be counted on my testicles. One day during the retreat, a nun crept up behind me as I was getting my things out of my locker to go home, and was irate because I had “David Copperfield” and not “The Life of the Little Flower,” or something similar. I felt that once school was out for the day, so was the retreat, but she didn’t feel this way at all. My father and my friend Tom read philosophy and theology books all the time, and actually enjoyed them, but such books are just not my preferred cup of tea. An essay maybe, but a whole book? Perhaps the life of a saint! But saints for more than a month? No way. I feel that Lenten sacrifices should have some benefit, in addition to just “giving up” something. “Doing something for Lent” makes more sense that "giving something up." My friend Judy gave up her beloved New York Times for Lent, and then gave the money saved to the Catholic Relief Organization. That is both giving up, and doing. So what to do? One year I gave up talking uncharitably about certain people. Talking uncharitably about everyone would not have been realistic, and would never happen, since that particular activity is so deeply ingrained, but I could manage to eliminate two victims of my ill-nature. But back to Lenten reading. I decided to only read novels in German. This would have some positive effect, in that hopefully, it would improve my mind. I decided to give up Spider Solitaire, one of my passionate addictions. Rebecca, always enthusiastic about my sacrifices, kindly pointed out that there was no point in giving up Spider if I didn’t give up Freecell as well. In the spirit of “doing something” as well as giving something up, I have been reading nurse articles during the times I would be playing Spider – i.e., while my tea is coming to a boil, or my English muffin is toasting. I always mean to read these, but so often there is something just a trifle more interesting beckoning me. I have one on the kitchen table at all times, and read a page or so at a go. I’m finding that this is a good plan. I may adopt it for a lifestyle.

5 comments:

Knitman said...

What gorgeous flowers. excellent photographs.

Knitman said...

I no longer take any notice of Lent. however, I have given up plenty in my life and will continue to do so. However, I do so either because it is good for me or good for others and no other reason. I'd like to give up being crabby and taking it out on John. It is something I ask for help for. I HATE the way I talk to him at times.

FugueStateKnits said...

Hi Joanna:) How about a nice mystery novel set in a monastery or a convent? Even Umberto Eco's In the Name of the Rose would be heavy duty and very edifying reading, but also great mystery stuff!
Just a thought - another possibility might be Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer - one of my all time heroes (his all-too-short life is the stuff of legends! I especially love that he went to Union Theological Seminary in NYC and made friends with one of the few black seminarians in the 1930s, then attended church with him in Harlem, learning the African American spirituals in the process. His best friend, Eberhard Bethge, is quoted as saying, "We [the students in the illegal seminary at Finkenwalde] hummed "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" twenty years before the the radio and concert halls made it familiar here [in post-war Germany]")
I understand what you mean, Colin - it's really more about taking stock, not following archaic rules. It's when we do nothing that no improvement happens.
Be nice to John! I'll try to be nice to my John, too. What would we do without them:)? Keep in mind, we are both having this online conversation at the blog of a woman who just this past year lost a dear friend! I vote we appreciate the dear ones we have while they are here with us!

joannamauselina said...

Colin, I agree. Just giving something up for the sake of giving something up is pointless. I would like to give up being crabby, and I really try, but I am just a naturally crabby person, so it is hard. Giving up Solitaire is good, I think, because I am doing something positive in its place, and not wasting so much time.
Joan, I will read the book you recommend, but probably not till after Lent. I am actually enjoying my German novel, but it is slow going. Of course, I am not listening to audio books in German. I would not understand a thing. So the English ones on my current list are the audio books.

Miss Nobody said...

We gave up our giving up while we were on our trip and now it's like starting Lent all over again. I'm reading more Charles Brockden Brown, and it's a penance, I assure you. Not sure what I'll read next. I am quite impressed about the German novels. Schiller? Goethe? Sounds deep. Very Brontesque, too. (See Vol III of Jane Eyre.)