Station to Station

This’ll be a quick one. I’m not going to ruin your evening by rambling about Jesus for a thousand words or so.

BUT ALSO CHECK OUT THIS VIRTUAL, VIDEO STATIONS OF THE CROSS HERE.

I’m helping a gal at church come up with a bilingual Stations program for Lent, & I happened across that one during my research. It’s done by hip Catholics. I like Busted Halo’s quick explanations of things you generally have to take months of catechism to learn. That way, I’m not just nattering on to my unchurched or evangelical friends about liturgical wonders & quirks for twelve hours, like ya do.

Not that I don’t enjoy that, but I get the distinct impression they don’t, or that they are amused for all the wrong reasons.

The Stations are moving, brutal, intense, loving, & immense in their impact. I am so excited for Lent. You know how I dig a penitential season. You can go to church almost every day, & most people don’t think you’re crazy (for once).

And you really spend a good deal of the time clearing out anything putting distance between yourself and Christ. What’s not to love?

I wrote a little something about that, which you can get here.

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Jesus Has Your Back, Yo

My friend is keeping a secret Lenten blog, & in it she discusses Jesus’ admonition to keep your piety to your damn self. This kind of flies in the face of me keeping a pretty open blog about what’s going on with my Give Ups/Give Ins, but I’m not here to tell you I’m an awesome super Christian. I’m here to tell you I totally suck at everything without The Lord.

I’ve spoken before about how God’s various commandments are not there to make us feel like crap about ourselves, but they’re there to help us avoid dumb shit He knows is bad for us because hello, He’s God. Let me share with you a modern parable that I give to my clients from time to time to illustrate why it’s better to listen to your Elders (Cthulu worshippers may identify):

If you’ve ever spent twenty minutes with a toddler, a cat, or a dog, you notice a couple of things. They spend a lot of time close to the ground, & they make a beeline for anything on that ground. Say you have vacuumed the absolute living crap out of your front room, but now there’s a toddler/cat/dog hanging out. They can see the cracker you dropped under your couch three months ago. It is now their utmost desire & goal to obtain that cracker.

They spend the better part of ten minutes staring at, stalking, & evaluating that cracker. They then spend another ten trying to get to that cracker. You, as guardian, may make remarks like “What’re you doing?” in a big goofy high pitched voice, but you’re not a jerk & you want to see what the tiny creature is up to. Eventually, they emerge from under the couch with the cracker in hand or mouth, beaming with pride, and they are about to bite…

What do you do? “Oh God NO!” you yell, whipping the dustmite-coated prize from the tiny creature. You know it’s totally gross & will make them sick. You are horrified that such a thing exists in your world. You feel like the world’s worst housekeeper. And now the child is screaming & crying. The dog is whining. And cat has already scratched you & run off with it & is chomping it down & will throw it up in your shoe later.

And now you know how God feels when He sees us striving for the low & disgusting things in our ground-level eye line. He’s like “Seriously? I have a fresh batch of cookies in the oven for you! Why in the hell are you using all your energy to get a dusty cracker? CAN’T YOU SMELL THE COOKIES?”

And Jesus is all “Forgive them, Father, for they can only see dusty crackers.”

And God’s like “Fine, whatever. Where’s the DustBuster?”

My dusty cracker has been The Wrong Man, sugar, stable but spirit-crushing work. “Look what I can do!” I say to The Lord. He sighs. “But I’ve imagined so much more for you. Oh well, come to Me when you’re fed up with dusty crackers. And would it kill you to stop puking in my shoes?”

What has this to do with Lent? Well, it’s forcing me to see beyond the dusty crackers. I was hungry after my tasty but meager dinner. The Voice whispered “Maybe now would be a good time to work out.” I said “Maybe I should check on my elven army” cos I was just made regent of my alliance & I’m responsible for the happiness of 67 Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth players. “Yeah, ok, that will help,” says the Voice, rolling His eyes.

But after I checked on my elves (they’ve mined a ton of ore!), I got on the recumbent bike. I did some arms. And God was right. I was no longer hungry, & I’d worked out for 20 minutes.

The dusty cracker of sloth is hella tempting. God dangled fitness cookies in front of me & I was like “Yeah, I’ll have one of those, though it feels like suffering” & Jesus was all “You think you know from suffering?” & I was like “Well, yeah” & then I felt like a stupid baby, but an empowered stupid baby.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Cos seriously if left to my own devices I’d weigh 900lbs, have one of those fetishist feeder boyfriends who controls me, & y’all would be carting me around in the back of a firetruck.

Jesus has my back, yo, even though I am a total idiot. He’s got yours, too. I won’t comment as to your level of idiocy.

Woo HOO! Lent!

Is it weird to be excited about Lent?

This is the first year in my life I’m observing Lenten season. I’ll be 40 at the end of this month, so for 39 years I’ve been blissfully & ignorantly unaware of the benefit of a penitential season.

My friends without faith may find penitence to be a useless exercise prescribed by a litigious God. If you’ve grown up with unrelenting self doubt, survivor guilt, victim guilt, & low self worth, limiting your reflection & restriction to 40 days is somewhat freeing. Instead of serving a sentence limited only by your own limitless self loathing, 40 days with a giant pardon at the end granted by the death & resurrection of your Saviour is like BOOYAH!

Concentrating your reflection is also useful. When studying treatment modalities in a heavily behaviour-focused psychology program, you spend a lot of time talking about goal-oriented therapy. You also mock the indulgent rambling of psychoanalysis (for both the client in the starring role as the constant victim in their own life & the therapist collecting the cash). You can & should teach healing mechanisms to your clients & you should measure their progress within a limited time frame, just as you would a client at the gym or a patient healing from a physical disease. This has the benefit of giving the client self sufficiency as well as simultaneously evaluating the efficacy of the therapist & their methods.

And just like a personal trainer’s client, a therapist can only expect success if the client is ready to genuinely change.

Lent gives us the opportunity to figure out if we are ready to change. When we reach the end of the season & we find ourselves enjoying smaller, simpler meals & committing to an act of faith, we can ask ourselves “Have my priorities changed? Am I happier with simpler needs? Am I over being distracted by trappings & cravings?” If you’re not, you can try again next year (if not before).

By giving up my slavery to food & sloth (& all the reasons I became their bitch, including some valid medical ones that Lenten fasting rules do allow us to address), I hope to find an inner strength & a clarity. Jesus is hella awesome at showing us that stuff.

I know I’m supposed to be solemn & shit, but I’m kind of stoked.