Lent and Giving Up to Get More

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A very yellowed cartoon I clipped from the New Yorker years ago that is still pinned on the bulletin board above my desk to remind me of the relationship with my TV that I’d rather have.

LATELY, I’ve become fascinated by the relationship between the liturgical calendar and the natural seasons. I was brought up in a Christian tradition, but like most casual Protestants we didn’t do Lent. I’m still not especially religious in the ways I practice my spirituality, but this idea of observing annual rhythms with rituals has great appeal to me.

I’m not enthusiastic about the notion of penance that is traditionally associated with Lent, but I do like the idea of preparation for renewal. The plants in my backyard are getting ready for spring. They aren’t blooming yet (blooming is for Easter – hallelujah! and thanks for the abundance), but they are preparing – deepening their roots, strengthening their branches, sending out leaves to gather energy.

I also like the idea of sacrifice in its true sense of giving up something good so that something greater may be attained.

I love TV. It is my drug of choice and has been since childhood. A latchkey kid, it was my friend when I was lonely or bored or frightened (snacks helped, too). But there is nothing on (writer’s strike or no writer’s strike). With few exceptions, it is a vast wasteland of gossip and greed and violence and fear. I have to stop polluting my mind and heart with all that garbage. And if I am going to prepare to bloom in the ways I want to – let’s face it – I just don’t have time to watch Entertainment Tonight. I’ve got roots to deepen, branches to strengthen, energy-gathering leaves to grow.

Garrison Keillor recently wrote in Salon, “I gave up watching television 25 years ago because I liked it so much, even though I couldn’t remember what I had watched the day before, and could see that if I went on as a viewer my life would become a blank.”

Amen, brother.

So, I’m giving it up (okay, most of it – the twinkies, but not the whole grains – at least until Easter…). I’ll keep you posted on my rehab. News at eleven…

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