Lenten Lentils, LaLaLa

So far, resolutions are still surviving, although there are signs of rebellion everywhere.  My family was really big on making Lenten promises – my husband decided to discipline his potty mouth, younger daughter had a laundry list of promises (including running outside for 30 minutes everyday and no gaming/social media/texting for fun), and my son gave up gaming and vowed to run outside every day for 30 minutes.  Well.  Yesterday was Ash Wednesday – Day #1.  First thing in the morning, as the children are thundering around upstairs, and my husband is waiting impatiently downstairs to drive them to school, he yells, “What the F**K is going on?!”  sigh.  And the kiddies come home from school, full of excuses as to why they are too tired to go out and suck in some fresh air.  FINE.  I will be perfect and do everything I promised, right? HA.

Well, I gave up my favorite thing in the world (besides the actual people I love), Facebook.  So to prevent temptation, I deleted the apps from my phone and my ipad, after changing the notification settings so I don’t get any emails telling me what I’m missing.  But then I found myself checking my phone every hour yesterday…only to find the app missing, boo.  So then I would do something lame like open up CNN or check my email.  And I wandered aimlessly for much of the day.  Withdrawal is not so fun.

I also made a quiet promise to myself that I would give this Godforsaken town a 2nd chance by doing something new every day.  Yesterday was supposed to be my day to visit the town museum.  I went.  Twice.  Both times it was closed for some unexplained reason. Attendant in the bathroom? Who knows.  And because I also promised myself I would not swear anymore, I was forced to sound ridiculous by saying out loud, “Tsk. Tsk.”  That’s it.  “Tsk. Tsk.”  And you KNOW what I really wanted to do was yell what my husband yelled up the stairs this morning.  sigh.  So I went to pick up my son from the elementary school, and he jumps into the car and exclaims, “MAMA, can we make Valentines cards for tomorrow?!  Homemade!  With like, chocolate Kisses stuck inside?!”  I haven’t done arts and crafts with the kids since we moved away from Hawaii, 4 years ago.  After all, my youngest is in 6th grade now, and tying them down to the kitchen table is like trying to wash a cat.  Possible, but not so fun.  So I thought, “why not?”  it was something new for us in Canada, I could rationalize.  Luckily, I’m a pack rat so our art supplies were in great abundance.  We bought some chocolate covered caramels wrapped in gold at the grocery store, and cut out the prettiest valentines out of contruction paper on the kitchen table.  Simon wrote out and decorated all of them, and carefully taped a candy inside each one. It was the best hour I had all day. 

So then we all bundled up and went to Ash Wednesday Mass at 7pm.  There was good news and bad news.  The good news was that our Nigerian priest from last year (who was a lovely man but whose English was incomprehensible) had been replaced with a sweet little Indian man with a very understandable sing-song accent.  The kids perked up to be able to understand the homily, and his enthusiasm brought smiles to our faces.  The bad news was that the choir still consisted of a lead singer with a microphone, and her warbling backups (3 little old ladies who loved trilling vibratto off-tuned harmony…very loudly).  My mother never taught me this, but I learned it from my friends with manners:  if you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.  Well, I am trying to follow that advice with my spoken word (my written word is out-of-bounds…anything goes), so I was verrrry verrrry quiet during Mass.  We all held hands, I whispered explanations to my youngest son during the readings, and before we knew it, we were released into the cold night air.  Surprisingly, both the children, my husband, and I felt glad that we attended.  When we returned home, I found 6 emails in my inbox – all personal, from my big sister and friends – and I didn’t have to think about Facebook while I read them. My big sister, who is a proud Birkie-Lovin’ Pagan, called me a Lentil, and I am still laughing. It’s the new me: Lentil Sue. I might give you gas, but I am good for you!

Heavens to Murgatroyd, She’s Talking Religion…

It is rapidly approaching that time of year for me to temporarily put down the excess in my life – the things I think I NEED when in reality they are things that I just desperately WANT – and to use that time to do the best I can to explore and improve my Faith. For Lent (beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 13th), I will be giving up my daily touchstone: Facebook. For those of you who use FB as a business contact list, or a place to play online games, this might seem like a trivial sacrifice; something akin to giving up chocolate. For me, I will be giving up the small window of joy I receive when I can see a friend, or a sister, or a cousin, from across the world, post a photo of themselves or their child, or post an update to their day as they are maybe waking up and I am going to bed. I will be giving up that warm feeling when my family and friends comment, laugh, or commiserate about my day. Living, as I have for the last year, in such an isolated place, Facebook has become my main link to my small extended family living in Australia, Germany, Hawaii, Florida, and Taiwan, and the only way to get all my busy friends who live in dozens of other countries, to come to one virtual meeting place to visit. It is truly the only thing that I love so much (other than my family), that I will miss keenly. Honestly, I’ve been living without wine for weeks now, have lived without coffee/caffeine before, and have given up different food groups with no problem. Facebook is my one connection to every single one of my friends and family who do not live in Jasper (pretty much the rest of the world). And while I crave that human connection, leaving it for 40 days will give me clarity and focus. I will email, text, call, write letters, and make a renewed effort to write my blog.

Easter will be on March 31st. I have been a shitty Christian for most of the year, and I need to contemplate why that is, and what I can do about it. It’s not so cool or popular to admit that I am grateful for the love that has come into my life and that I truly believe much of my good fortune came from God answering the only two wishes I ever wished in my whole life. Wish #1 was prayed on every first star I saw, every night from when I was a sad, unwanted 13 years old until I was 25: “Please Lord, give me a family that will love me as much as I love them.” It began to come true when Emily was born, through my meeting Markus, continued with the arrival of Hanna, and was finally complete upon the birth of Simon. Wish #2 began 19 years ago, and is still whispered up to the first star every night, including tonight: “Dear Lord, please watch over my family, and keep us safe and happy, and in love, and healthy, and kind to eachother, and having fun every day.” And as my prayers are answered, I think it’s only appropriate for me to say Thank You and return some of that love.

So, on February 13th, I will delete the Facebook app from my computer and phone, and I will ask that you email or snailmail or just go on enjoying your life for the remainder of the 40 days until Easter. I will also be enjoying my time away, living life and being present and prepared to listen to any messages to my soul.

Whoever your God is, or whatever you choose to believe, I wish you Peace. And here, help yourself to a slice of love. I have plenty to share.

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