I very rarely talk about spiritual matters here, but if you've been reading for a while you may have been able to pick up on some things--like, for instance, the fact that I was raised Catholic but for various reasons am currently not practicing my faith, or any faith. (And for now, at least, I'm very much at peace with that decision.) But each year, when Lent rolls around, I find myself drawn back to the rituals of Lent from my childhood and early adulthood. Not the going-to-church part (clearly), but the parts about sacrifice and spiritual growth.
I'm not really sure why this is. Perhaps it's because these things became habitual through years of repetition. Maybe it's because there are signs of spring in the air, and spring brings a longing for personal growth and renewal. Or maybe this is my subconscious way of bridging my former Catholic self with my current agnostic self. But for whatever reason, there it is: the need to sacrifice something, to embark on a small journey of self-discovery, to reflect on how I could be a better world citizen.
Every year as a kid, I gave something up for Lent. Usually it was chocolate (even back then, I knew my vices well!). I did it because it was something we "had" to do, just like not eating meat on Friday and not eating dessert or snacks on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (my parent's version of fasting for us kids). And when I was still practicing, I still felt like I "had" to give up something. Now that I'm not practicing, I actually want to give up something, something that's more than a token sacrifice. On some level, I guess I think that by doing a greater sacrifice, I have to dig deeper into myself, and thus I end up growing more as a person.
This year, in addition to the physical sacrifice, I'm including an explicitly spiritual component. Although I don't miss going to church, I have felt lately like my spiritual side is lacking. And so I will be adding meditation to my daily routine, just for Lent. I've never done anything like this before, and I'm interested in seeing where this practice takes me and how it helps me to grow.