Lenten sacrifices can benefit others

  • Brooke Fisher<br>
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:29am

Reared in Eastern Washington, Easter weekend was always a very big deal for my family when I was younger. Grandparents and many aunts and uncles lived nearby and the out-of-towners would always squeeze in with my family for the festivities.

You see, my relatives are all Catholic; there is no need to recruit.

Catholicism runs in my mother’s side of the family. My great grandmother was a nun. Briefly, of course. When I was little, my maternal grandmother often showed my twin sister and me a black and white photograph of our great grandmother dressed in a habit. This may have been a scare tactic.

I remember waking up Easter morning at the exact same time as my sister and two slightly younger boy cousins. We would rush out to the dining room clad in our pajamas to see what the Easter bunny had brought. He/she was very, very predictable: loads of candy and a scavenger hunt for the big surprise, which was usually a new toy.

After all the excitement had abated and we had nearly passed out, we would dress nicely and trot off to mass. That was the routine. I still go home every Easter.

As a child and even in my adolescence, which extended through college, I would never really “give up” anything important for Lent. But I would create a resolution to benefit myself. I would make my bed every day, something I already did, or study more, something I also did in excess. I had a good friend who was even worse; she gave up ranch dressing.

This Lenten season I have decided to not just stand on the sidelines while other people make sacrifices and renew their spirituality. I signed up to be a member of team Lent. While attending mass every Sunday, I usually come to the same conclusion: I can use some touch-up work. I am in slightly better standing than people who go to church only on holidays and take up all the seats.

I hold grudges (some from high school) and am guilty of loving my iPod Nano. People like me keep churches in business. I do, however, think I have a few redeemable qualities: I thoroughly enjoy recycling and I can only shop for about an hour. I also have converted at least one person to leisure reading.

My action plan for the Lenten season has been a compromise. If it doesn’t suffice, I figure I can always convert. I can drink all the coffee my body can hold during breakfast and then I’m cut off for the rest of the day.

No afternoon coffee break. No walking to the closest coffee shop and throwing wads of money at baristas (who have very good memories) for a few ounces of warm, black coffee.

Instead, I have learned to indulge in drinking endless cups of tasteless black tea while thinking about all the little things in life that end up complicating my existence. Like feeling the need to be superfluous and spend money on trivial items — let’s just say coffee — when I can make small sacrifices and give coffee money to charity.

And, of course, I always try to touch on the never-ending topic of how to be a better person. After all, Lent is about keeping life simple and focusing on the important things.

Brooke Fisher is a writer and editor with The Enterprise Newspapers.

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