Because it is like having a 40 day retreat in the middle of your real life.
Am I nuts that I love Lent? Is it crazy to look forward to a penitential season that is designed to purify us? Perhaps. But somehow I have grown to love the quiet, simple, introspective time. I like that, unlike Advent, I never feel like I am wandering the desert alone. Instead, I feel like it is hard core one on one time with Jesus. He kind of coaches me through it.
I like giving stuff up. It always hard and I inevitably do it imperfectly, which helps me remember that striving for perfection is a form of spiritual hubris. Only God is perfect. My failure forces me to rely on God. At first, that seemed ironic, that I would ask God to help me with something that was meant to be a gift to him. But in the end, I realized that my asking him for help probably was the gift he most wanted.
I like that the material world takes a back seat to the spiritual. Emotions are close to the surface. Things take on a new significance. The world seems full of signs and wonders.
I don't feel lack. To me, being off in the desert with my Beloved never feels like sacrifice or punishment. It's emptiness is more a privilege. A joy. A gift. Even when it is painful and difficult.
This year, I haven't thought about what I will give up to God. I have already put down sugar and, for the most part, booze. I don't smoke. Maybe I should try giving up cussing! And I am going to read the New Testament. And abstain from meat on Fridays. All of these little intrusions into my day to day life will serve as reminders that I live for God. That I want to offer everything to him. That life in him is the greatest joy of all.
I love Lent.
So tell me, dear readers, what are you doing for Lent this year?