Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lent from My Navel

I used to enjoy Easter.

As with most so-called Christian holidays, the spiritual and secular intertwined. This special Sunday featured bright colors on clothing and Easter eggs, an anticipatory and often chilling sunrise service, family gatherings, inspiring church anthems, the earth's springtime renewal, and hope for a general resurrection and second chances.

Then, our church began to emphasize Lent, the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The Wednesday night soup suppers were nice (cheese, crackers, various soups, fruit, water, and fellowship), and I'm nothing if not gluttonous. But again, excitement grew muted. The lenten services were pretty much downers. We were sent inward to reflect on our basic moral depravity and to ask forgiveness.

Maybe I'm odd. (I'm sure I am.) But, don't a lot of us--basically decent folks--spend too much time beating ourselves up over things we've done or things we didn't do, but should have? Do we need official religious sanction to wallow in our weaknesses and to obliterate self-image even further?

Perhaps such introspection on personal negatives would do an ego-maniac good. Psychopaths and sociopaths could well stand some downsizing of their aberrant thinking. Yet, somehow I'm afraid the ministrations of Lent might be lost on them.

To all this, Mel Gibson has given us a new opportunity as voyeurs to mankind's darkest depravity in The Passion of the Christ. I admit I haven't screened the film, but from impartial reviews it seems like an extension of the climactic torture scene in Braveheart.

True, as a friend once remarked, "You can't have two mountains without a valley in between. You can't have resurrection and rebirth without death. What would spring be without winter?

Still, I long for Easter of brighter color, of ascenscion from a high plain rather than a deep valley, self-actualization up from a normal thriving rather than from depraved existence.

Even our soup suppers have been downsized--no more cheese or fruit. I'll still introspect anyway and expect much from myself. But to regain the splendor of Easter, I might just have to give up Lent for Lent.

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