Having grown up Baptist, I understand Christmas and Easter and know a little bit about Palm Sunday and Advent. Lent, however, as the acknowledged territory mainly of liturgically-driven churches such as Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans, has always been a bit of a mystery.
This year, therefore, I’m celebrating my first Lent, which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. I'm pretty excited about it; there's an incredible awe and joy in taking a physical step intended to express and nourish spiritual devotion. I've fasted before, of course, so I'm at least familiar with that concept.
For my first Lenten season, I am giving up… dun duh dah… Harry Potter. Hopefully that doesn't sound blasphemous to anyone! I can understand concern about how Harry Potter takes a position in my life strong enough merit fasting from, though, so let me explain my rationale here :-)
I am choosing to go forty days without Harry Potter (except Sundays, which are free from fasting) because reading the Harry Potter books, as well as talking and thinking and reading about Harry and company, is for me a mode of relaxation and enjoyment. Some people play computer games, some people watch this or that TV show, some people eat chocolate. I thought about giving up chocolate, actually, but every girl does that; besides, chocolate for me ranks not in the category of mere wants, but basic needs :-P The point is, anyway, that I read Harry Potter for uplifting and an antidote to stress when my brain won’t handle much else. I go get a laugh at the exploits of Harry and friends or borrow some inspiration from their courage. I have also read the books quite a bit in the year and a quarter since I first brought home The Sorcerer's Stone, so a break seemed like a good idea.
While I could have chosen fiction in general as my sacrifice, that seemed more likely to accentuate stress rather than spur on devotion for me. Since I rarely watch movies or television, reading fiction is almost my only means of complete relaxation. And probably if this were not such a big year for Harry—with the release of movie #5 and the final book coming in July—the series’ effect on my life wouldn’t really qualify for sacrifice over such a limited time.
As it is, however, from Ash Wednesday to Easter I am not reading any of the books, following news (anything big that comes up can be reviewed on Sundays only), looking Harry up on Wikipedia or fan sites, or initiating conversations about the series. I will also remove Hermione from my IM pictures and should probably take her off my Xanga, too, come to think of it. If all this proves ‘too easy’ for me, I’ll add to the sacrifice for holy week.
Anyway, here’s to my first Lent. God grant that I find more of Christ through it…