Monday, March 9, 2009

I am not very good at my religion

Though I use the phrase "my religion" lightly. I do not really believe in it or follow it. I DO look back with fondness at getting a donut every Sunday afternoon if I did not take a sip of the Holy Wine during communion and spend the rest of the service pretending to be drunk. (Bribery works, guys.)

Of all the Catholic things I disliked, I disliked Lent the most. Lent (not to be confused with "lint," which I did confuse it with as a child) is the period of forty days before Easter during which you are supposed to give something up as a way to constantly remind yourself of what Jesus gave up for you. There is nothing that I like about it.

My initial hatred starts with Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. On this day, you go to Church, and a priest draws ashes in a cross on your forehead and murmurs to you in a soft voice, "Remember you are dust, and to dust to shall return." Cheerful. The first time my mother let me participate in this, I was ecstatic. I had been rather jealous years previously that she got to have dirt on her face, but mine had to stay clean. She had been waiting for my brothers and I to grow up a bit, and to learn and understand what the time was really about before we started participating in it.

She vastly overestimated my maturity.

At seven, I practically bounced my way to the front of the line, and about glowed with joy when the priest smeared ashes on me. Yes! My very own dirt! Then he said his line:

"Remember you are dust," he said, looking at me solemnly, "and to dust you shall return."

I blinked. "...When?"

I don't think anyone had ever talked back to him. He was stunned enough to lose his solemn look, shrug, and say, "When you've died."


I burst into tears and had to be dragged from the church. I did not get a donut. And it turns out, going to church on that Wednesday is not in anyway a replacement for that Sunday's service. You have to go again.

Much to my dismay, my mother informed me that night that being old enough to receive ashes also meant I was old enough to give something up. It's okay, though. I found a way around it.

"Sara," my mother said to me a week later, staring down at a teacher's note I had brought home to her and looking Not Happy. "Your teacher says you haven't turned in homework this week."

"Yeah," I said. I was not concerned about the Not Happy look. I was eating Doritos, and was therefore distracted.

"Why?" she asked.

"I gave it up for Lent."

Turns out, this is also not allowed. She made me give up Doritos instead. And again, no donut that Sunday.

So when Victoria informed me that she is wisely and maturely using Lent, a time she does not usually celebrate as she is not Catholic, to break herself of some bad habits, and give up swearing, I told her I was giving up Lent.

You know what I'm not giving up? Donuts. I'm going to go talk Casey into buying some right now.

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