I should have taken a picture. At some point last year - maybe about this time - my boss had a message to us all on her communication board "This is the week we give up recreational whining." I laughed. And blushed. And took it, at least temporarily, to heart.
Lent is not something I grew up with; it is something I only came to understand so I could write a paper in my last year of university that would get me invited as an undergrad to a grad student conference in Baton Rouge during Mardi Gras week. I attended the conference just long enough to present my paper on the upside-down world of the carnivalesque, then jumped in a rental car with three recent strangers and headed to New Orleans. We laughed, we drank, we ate and ate, we watched, we swung from lamp-posts shouting "STELLA" and we thoroughly enjoyed that very unique spectacle of Mardi Gras N'Orlins style.
I've thought often since then of the ritual of lent. The decadence that precedes it, and the suffering of Christ it mimics. As STG wisely and somewhat laughingly (we were eating burgers, fries and cake, after all) pointed out tonight, "Jesus suffered so we don't have to" ... and yet ... there's something to giving up one-self for something better. And honestly, how much of a sacrifice would it be? There's so much of myself I'd happily give up that would only make life easier, more pleasant.
Feeling slighted/ignored/misunderstood at every turn.
Being quick to anger and sadness.
I don't think I'm any worse than anyone else. Or any better. We all have parts of ourselves - physically and psychically - that we'd probably be happy to let go. And for 40 days feel free of the burden of being us for a while. Maybe we'd even like it so much we'd keep going after Good Friday.
Or maybe, just now and then, perhaps on a Tuesday in February, we can also throw it all aside, eat a pancake or a King cake or a slice of flourless torte and laugh and chant with the jesters, laissez le bon temps rouler. Despite all the doubt and worry, despite the sugar highs and the emotional lows. Just let those good times roll.