Today is Mardi Gras, the last big day of celebration before the Catholic world goes into that period of Lent - 40 days until Palm Sunday and Holy Week. It is meant to mark the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert before he entered Jerusalem and surrender to his death.
As a child, what I remember most about Lent was that we had to "give up" something that we really loved and offer it up to God. My child always rebelled a little at this. It felt like I was being punished for being Catholic. Lots of my friends went to church, but they didn't have to give up chocolate or deserts or meat. They didn't have to be extra nice to their siblings. And they certainly didn't have to go to confession whenever they failed to do these things and accept more punishment.
As an adult, I realized that it was much more about using these 40 days as a way of growing closer to God. It was less about giving up than it was about eliminating those earthly things that get in the way of our better self.
I haven't observed Lent in several years. And this year I feel the need to do it. It's time for me to do a little desert work. I'm not going to say specifically what I've chosen to "give up" because it's a very personal decision - between me and God. But I do intend to chronicle my desert time, journal by way of this blog what these next 40 days will reveal to me.
Now it's off to a little celebration before I head out into the wilderness, alone. Just me. And any of you who happen to follow along.