One day in, and already sacrificin’

So I went back and forth about what to do for Lent this year.  As always, there’s the classic dilemma: do I give something up, or embrace something new?

I’ve decided to do both.

I’m two months into my Year O’ Prayer Experiment (explained in detail here) in which I try a new form of prayer each month.  That means that the “embracing something new” bit is already covered. (February is the Month of the Bible.  I’ve been reading the daily Gospel every day, and it’s been a good thing.  More later).

But I still had to figure out what to give up.  Here are the ideas that came to mind:

1. Caffeine. I did flirt with the idea of sacrificing coffee and tea for forty days, and — well, let’s just say that this flirtation did not develop into a serious relationship.  To put it more accurately, I realized I’d be insane to try this.  Yes, it would be a chance to grow in virtue.   But the fact is, the ONLY thing that gets this sleep-deprived mom down the freeway to her job is a large commuter mug of Sumatra laced with half-and-half.  I fear I’d be a safety hazard were I to commute without it.  That is not a hyperbole.

2.  Online time. Last Lent, I limited myself to one online visit per day (when not at work, that is).  It was definitely a sacrifice, and it made me realize just how much I turn to this computer whenever — well, just whenever.  I couldn’t figure out how to make it work this year, though.  With the doubling of the number of children in my household since last year, I find it very hard to finish any online task in one sitting.   I’m also bad enough at answering email as it is; I don’t need a reason to become worse.

Finally, though, I settled on a good Lenten sacrifice.  I think it’ll be challenging and meaningful without  making me a highway hazard or a hermit.  As of today,  I’m giving up Office Food.

Office Food is just what it sounds like:  food that people put out in the department office at school.  It ranges from leftovers (pizza from the journalism kids) to treats made especially for us hardworking pedagogues (rich gooey brownies baked by a teacher in the Social Studies department).  You never know what will show up on the counter: earlier this week there was, inexplicably, a large box of Froot Loops out for the taking (and yes, I partook).  Office Food gives me a little lift in the middle of the school day.  I love it.  I eat it without thinking.

And that’s exactly why I’m giving it up.  It’s a chance to stop in my tracks, alter my normal routine, and remember that there’s a different kind of hunger that Lent is meant to satisfy.

And, right on cue, today I had to say no to something delish.  One of my colleagues, who had just been granted tenure, brought in a Draeger’s chocolate cake to celebrate.  The velvety dark cake, the thick brick of white frosting, the little dark chocolate curls: oh, it was painful to turn it down.  But I did.  And when I remembered why I was depriving myself, it made the whole thing a little bit easier.

Thirty-nine days left.  I think I can do this.

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