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By VINCE LUECKE, Editor
Lent is about here and while not everyone’s religious tradition observes the 40-day period before Easter, I suspect most people at least acknowledge its arrival.
It’s also true that not everyone follows the pattern of “giving up something” for Lent, just as most of us don’t kick up our heels in Mardis Gras style before Ash Wednesday’s arrival.
When it came to Lent, I grew up in an observant household where Ash Wednesday and the subsequent Fridays of Lent meant salmon patties, cod squares, tuna salad and catfish. I can still recall the smell of fish each Friday and going to church for Stations of the Cross services. I guess the memories are most fond because life seemed simpler and maybe even better back then.
One of the benefits of being a child in a good home is not knowing just how the world works, at least its challenging parts.
I try to keep some of those Lenten traditions, such as abstaining from meat on Fridays and going to church at least a little more often.
I also try to be a little more giving with time and money. Instead of throwing my spare change into a cookie jar for some future splurge, I save it during Lent and give it to some charity that helps the hungry. I’m sure other churches do the same thing.
There are local ways of doing the same thing. I know friends who eat out most Friday evenings. During Lent, however, every other week is supper at home and they take what they otherwise would have spent and give it to a local charity.
It’s not the size of what we sacrifice or give up that counts, but the spirit behind it. A few dollars can go a long ways in buying bulk food.
I’ve tried to keep with my New Year’s resolutions of giving more time to others and that will continue during Lent. I’m one of three co-teachers who help with freshman religious-ed class at St. Paul’s Church most Sundays. I must have forgotten what being a freshman is like and my patience has been tried. That’s probably a good thing.
Lent is also a time to remember our mortality, even as spring approaches and nature comes to life so dramatically. In some traditions such as the one I grew up with, the priest sprinkles or smudges ashes with the words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
That’s not the cheeriest way to cap a column, but as we all know, it’s a reality we can’t run from.
Bring on Lent!