Why I’m observing Lent (even though I’m not Catholic)

(I am taking a break from blogging about Zen meditation today to blog about Lent.)

The quiet neighborhood bar where I was enjoying a nice bourbon & branch last night suddenly became over-run by drunk bro-dudes wearing plastic beads. Oh yeah, Mardi Gras. French for Fat Tuesday. Of course the origin of Fat Tuesday was that it was the day before 40 days of lean. That’s why it is traditional to go crazy on Mardi Gras, and eat donuts, drink and party etc. The idea being you are supposed to be getting it out of your system before 40 days of clean living. Plus the indulgence of something decadent is that much more enjoyable when you plan on giving it up for awhile. Since I’m giving up meat and alcohol I ate this ridiculous hamburger for lunch on Fat Tuesday. (Yup, it’s the same size as that tallboy.)


There was a whole lot of people out last night, ready to get tanked. They were all keen on observing the let’s get trashed half of the equation, but I had to wonder how many, if any, of the people there were planning on giving something up for Lent? I think that says a lot about our culture: we have taken the “indulge yourself” philosophy of this holiday to heart, but largely seem to ignore the rest!

So I have vowed to give up alcohol and red meat for the next 40 days. I’m not Catholic, but I don’t have to be to recognize that exercising a bit of restraint for an extended length of time is not only healthy, but probably good for the soul. Giving up booze is the classic. But it could be anything that you personally feel like you may over-indulge in from time to time. Be it sweets, giant hamburgers,  TV, or Twitter or Facebook (there’s an idea!). So I encourage you to ask yourself: what might I be better off without for the next 40 days?

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