Lent: It’s That Time of Year Again

A nun uses ashes to mark the forehead of a man during the traditional observance of Ash Wednesday in Manila, Philippines. (CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)
A nun uses ashes to mark the forehead of a man during the traditional observance of Ash Wednesday in Manila, Philippines. (CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)
For many of us who profess to be Christians (a dangerous journey), Lent looms in midwinter before anything green has sprung above the ice and snow. It seems cruel to think about giving anything up when the whole experience of winter is basically … giving things up. Being warm, going for long walks with your dog, sitting with friends and sipping wine — all of those things that make being human such a festive occasion.

Instead, five pounds fatter than I was in October, possibly drinking two glasses of wine per night instead of just one, and inhabiting a snarky, cranky space with my spouse, Ash Wednesday is upon me. Like a car going up an already rocky road, suddenly I hit the pothole that is Lent. The car shudders, and I shudder with it.

“Give something up? You must be kidding.”

Shouldn’t we be checking into a day spa, sending out for gourmet takeout, and scheduling a nice massage? What happened to a religion professing that as a spiritual practice? I could really worship at that altar.

Instead, I am faced with the idea of sacrificing whatever is my particular drug of choice to get through winter — be it chocolate, buying books from Amazon.com, criticizing my friends, gossiping, indulging in retail therapy.

I hope that with this effort to peel away something inessential in order to give to those in need, I will be following The Way. Just a little.

So, I have taken on a rather large deprivation for the next six (!!!) weeks: no wine. Period. And I’m going to take the money I spend per week on wine and give it to the local food pantry. Sounds good, right?

By untying myself from this attachment to delicious white wines, I think and hope to tie myself more closely to God. I hope that with this effort to peel away something inessential in order to give to those in need, I will be following The Way. Just a little.

And so that I don’t just get stuck in the idea of sacrifice, I shall also take on the spiritual practice of centering prayer. I definitely need more silence at the core of my life, and I think this will help fill the hole that wine used to fill.

I’ll let you know how this goes. I am a tad fearful. I truly love my wine, which is probably why it’s a good thing to put it aside for Lent. But at the end of six weeks (six weeks!), I shall be thinner, purer, closer to God, and almost certainly crankier.

Annie Turner

Ann Turner is a passionate convert to the Catholic faith, who is also passionate about life in general, small dogs, food and wine, friends, nature, and the blessing that comes from just showing up and being a witness with other people. Ann is also the published author of more than 40 children's books. Follow Ann's faith journey and more at her blog.