The Lenten season - in Latin Quadragesima, or Fortieth but later bastardized into Lent from the English, via old German, Lenz for "long" since this is the periods where days become noticeably longer - is the pentiential preparation of the believer. The penance (necessary when you believe you are born in "original sin" and must atone for being wrong versus believing you are born with an "original debt" which is to be paid back through ethical actions) takes many forms: prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial (and for some, mortification).
I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and let me tell you, those folks have a penchant for costumes, drama, dressing up and acting out... It makes for an interesting experience, but not one that I continue to resonate with.
However, observance, fasting, reflection, the desire to be better, and to atone for one's misdeeds is ultimately not the exclusive property of one religion, so we see these observances and restrictions imposed willingly by spiritual seekers in every tradition.
So, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Lententime, Careme, Paresimi, CarnivaKorizma, Carghas or Crawys - it's a time to observe and reflect. It's a time to celebrate the lengthening of the days...
So, let me ask - how many of you observe some form of self-denial? Are you willing to comment and share? If you do, what do you find to be experience and how do you process it? Are you doing it as a habitual action, or can you ritualize it?? And, does spending 40 days in reflection help you understand the prophets and their periods of fasting and separation?
Beyond concepts of right or wrong, moral or spiritual, tradition or observance - what is the experience?? And, how will that experience inform and serve you??
If you haven't observed the Lenten period, perhaps I can invite you to make this a simple 40 Day Challenge, a personal one. Perhaps, rather than denial and exclusion, you can choose a virtuous aspect or act to incorporate into your days for the next 40 - simply to reflect on the experience of making a positive choice and committing to it?
Are you in? What are you doing? Why? Oh, and you can dance like it's Carnivale for the entire 40, roll on homies!!
Give thanks and praise!