I love Lent and all that it means. It tends to be the centerpiece of my spiritual work for the year and a time for me to renew and reconnect and recommit. I also love the day before Lent begins. It goes by many names: Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carneval. This year, I decided to find a theme to explore during Lent, but I was not sure what it would be.
Traditionally, Fat Tuesday (and all its other names) is a time to celebrate before the sacrifice of Lent. I like the idea of balance and this is a sense of balance in the extremes. Feast, then fast. Savor, then starve (metaphorically). Receive, then refrain.
Generally, Lent is thought to be a Catholic tradition, but many denominations observe it. Lent lasts 40 days (not counting Sundays) and leads up to Easter. The 40 days represent the 40 days that Jesus fasted before his public ministry began.
Fat Tuesday, and all its other names, is celebrated with feasts and parties. Tradition holds that pancakes and other rich foods are eaten before the fasting of Lent begins. This was also a way of using up ingredients from food stores, to prevent waste, before Lent. Making and eating pancakes was a way to use up the last eggs and bits of sugar before the more somber time of Lent.
I thought about making pancakes, but decided to take the lazy way out, so that my evening could be spent on another ritual. On the way home from work, I stopped at one of my favorite restaurants and ordered a stack of pancakes and a side of bacon to go. Once I got home, I kicked off my shoes, put the pancakes and bacon on a plate and sat down to enjoy the feast. I made a cup of dark roast dandelion coffee since pancakes go well with coffee and this brew does not contain any caffeine.
I spent a bit of time in reflection, meditation, and prayer, and then I knew what my theme for Lent would be: forgiveness. Forgiveness of myself, forgiveness of others. Forgiveness, in many ways, is a way to let go: of anger, of regret, of blame. Forgiveness means to let go of the trespass and the trespasser.
There is much to explore in forgiveness and I expect that I will be through learning, praying, meditating, journaling, and participating in the act of forgiving. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. I look to the 40 day journey as a beginning and a way to peace.