In which we lose lots of our sanity and a little bit of chocolate.

My spirituality is something rather complicated. Unsurprising, right? I mean, isn’t most people’s? If people ask, I tend to simplify it – usually quip that I’m a recovering Catholic. But in reality, it’s something bigger than that. Do I believe in a God in the way most people who say they believe in God usually mean? No, I don’t think so. I believe in a God-like something, a benevolent force in the Universe that wants us all to be good, kind people who are compassionate and look after one another. I believe in the power of prayer, the power of kindness, and you betcher booty that whatever you call my spirituality, karma has its own role, oh yes it does.

Still, despite the fact that I stopped adhering to a strict Catholic viewpoint around the time that I graduated high school, some habits are hard to break. I’ve still kept Lent each year because I’m a little bit in love with the idea. I like the idea that we can make this small sacrifice, lift it up as a way to atone for maybe just a fraction of the little things we get wrong every day. (Right or wrong, it’s a little bit of that karma thing.) And, because I went to a Jesuit college and Jesuits are awesome people who ask us – how, then, shall we live? How shall we give back to this world we are fortunate to be a part of? How can we be of service to one another? – Lent is also for not just subtracting pleasure, but releasing something good back into the world. Whether it’s volunteering or performing random acts of kindness or what have you, Lent is not a time for turning inwards and improving just your own lot in this world. Not if you’re Catholic. Or, um, whatever I am.

Which is how we came to have a rather odd conversation in the car this morning. “You know, today is Ash Wednesday,” I announced. The girls were very aware – although, maybe not the fact that today was Wednesday. They attend church with their (Methodist) grandmother and this past week they had a Mardi Gras-type celebration about the coming of Fat Tuesday and Lent and, well, whatever else was an excuse to throw down at church. “During Lent, we all have to give something up,” I continued, “and you know how every year I give up chocolate?” It’s true. Could there be a bigger sacrifice? Maybe caffeine. Or wine. But there limits to even my creative ways of making it through each day without committing murder. I glanced up at the girls in the rear-view mirror. “I thought this year we could make a pledge as a family to give up candy for Lent.”

“NOOOO!” Bee might have screamed.

Then there was silence. Dead, shocked silence.

“We’re supposed to give up something that means a lot to us,” I reminded her. “I wanted it to be something we decided on as a family. For Jesus.” Hey, I wasn’t above plucking their poor, wee guiltstrings if it meant getting a healthier jump-start on Spring. Maybe fight filling the pantry with candy once this Lent-thing was over.

“I could give up candy,” I heard Gracie’s small, little voice offer up from her seat. God bless her. Score one for she who seeks approval from authority figures.

Bee was, predictably, fighting it with all the power of her stubborn little sweet tooth.

“I can’t give up candy!” she panicked. “I could give up Bear instead!”

“I don’t think that will help you sleep,” I countered.

“I have George, still!” was her happy answer. Yeah, that wasn’t really following the spirit of giving something up for Lent, I explained.

I tried again, reminding her that I would be giving up candy, too – no Cadbury eggs for me. Except for Sundays. Sundays were the exception; they were how we start Lent now and made it all the way to Easter with only 40 days. I don’t know how, but it’s saved my sanity more than once…once I learned about them, that is.

“So can you do it, Bee? Can you commit to our family pledge to give up candy?” I hope using fancy language would sway her.

“Okay. I could give up candy with you.”

And just like that, we all collectively lost our minds.

No candy at Casa de Katie for 40 days or 40 nights.

Tonight I’ll explain about random acts of kindness, of volunteering where and when we can, and we’ll brainstorm on how we can give back. We’ll flesh out our crazy, one-off religious ritual.

And it will be, if nothing else, a hilarious adventure.

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2 Responses to “In which we lose lots of our sanity and a little bit of chocolate.”

  1. Agent Torklepants Says:

    I cant remember if it was when you were preggers with gracie or bee but there was a year i took your chocolate pledge for the poor babys sake. And fricken ash Wednesday started on my bday and what did friends bring me giant bags of?!!! (And now i remember it was bee bc we were in mr. Howies room which was my homeroom junior yr lol). Godspeed.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Well, there are more entries on this site so you must have survived. I think I could do it, but I am not trying because I am not up for failure.

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