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Look familiar? Have any relevance to Lent and God’s call?
I told you we go off message every now and then, or maybe not.
Several have already written saying that Lent is not supposed to be about Joy, and that we minimize the importance of the sacrifice. The discussion is healthy and important. I will start with a story of my own.
“What are you giving up for Lent.” Looking back on these words, it was a ridiculous question given that I was asking a man nicknamed “Razor” inside a Federal Prison where we both were living at the time. He not only had no idea what I was talking about; he also believed he had nothing to give up after all he was, “ in prison, Big Easy ( my prison moniker).” However, over dinner and my lame explanation of Lent, we all agreed to give something up. I gave up my daily can of Cran-Grape ( “Grape Pop” was the name everyone else used.), Razor gave up Cake (his daily desert), and without much thought around the table “Breeze” gave up cookies, “Big Rick” sacrificed his second bowl of daily oatmeal, and Ray agreed to reduce his caffeine intake of eight cups of coffee a day. Word passed quickly as it does in such close quarters and many others decided to do “Big Easy’s Lent thing.” Thanks to the prison chaplain explaining to the Warden that Lent was not some precursor to a “Hunger Strike,” we continued our individual disciplines through the season. We were certainly not perfect in our disciplines, but we kidded each other when one would get caught sneaking a cookie or soda and supported each other to get back on the discipline when the allure of chocolate cake overwhelmed someone. Come Good Friday’s evening meal we all celebrated drinking Pop, eating cookies and cake, etc. ( I will save for another day the discussion about when Lent ends.)
Looking back on it I contemplate, “what was Lent’s sacrificial appeal to a group of men who were in prison who had no freedom, no material goods except prison issue, and, for many, no family left and little hope for the future.”
I think it may be found in their individual subconscious realization that despite their condition they still had something that brought them pleasure, no matter how small, and they also felt there was something special about giving up that pleasure for a brief time to honor God. And we learned
that no matter what the exceptionally difficult situation is, there is still an opportunity to grow spiritually.
– Webb Hubbell