February 18th was Ash Wednesday. I saw it on Facebook. Even though I’ve been planning in detail for the weeks before, during and after Easter, it didn’t cross my mind to think when was the beginning of Lent.
Growing up in a Catholic environment, I remember Ash Wednesday, as an exciting day. At school, we’d have a long mass where our Director/Priest would impose ashes on our foreheads, student by student, while repeating “Del polvo vienes y en polvo te convertirás” (“For dust you are and to dust you will return”. -Genesis 3:19) At home, we wouldn’t eat meat that day and then the following Fridays until Good Friday. I’ve never been a big fan of meat, there was my excitement. Friday lunch at the vegetarian restaurant? Bring it on!
In spite of years of hearing about it, repeating these symbolic acts, receiving catechism instruction, and having devoted friends and family around since little, I admit that I never reflected much about Lent and the idea of preparation for it, sacrifice, fasting, and abstinence. I do remember that we don’t sing the alleluia during lent. I remember some friends planning sacrifices such as not eating sweets, my aunt taking a vow of silence during Easter, and my grandpa staying quiet and almost silent on Good Friday. It’s not that I was a rebel, I just didn’t feel the call to renounce to some given pleasures, maybe because they were not even that pleasant to me and anyway, I was used to offering promises (not talking on the phone, not wearing earrings, and practical deals like that) in exchange of good grades every month.
A week off of school will come with Easter and that was exciting enough. A trip to the beach, the mountains, or at least to grandma’s house, almost three hours away from home. A few counted years, I remember going to a viacrucis (way of the Cross), a procession and visiting churches to see the “Monumentos”. Every four years, Easter will be right before presidential elections in the Dominican Republic, therefore was part of the last stretch of the political campaign, just to add some color, noise and folklore to our so called highways and toll stations. Then the news would report the balance of the losses of the week. Confusing.
When I moved to the United States I lost touch with all those traditions. I almost never realized when Easter was happening, unless I had a Spring Break type of show to work on, friends were visiting from DR during their time off, or one of my favorite bosses would announce that she will be taking Friday off because it was Good Friday.
Now that I am in my thirties, one of my goals is to awaken and strengthen that spiritual being that has been dormant inside me. I have been learning about how much sacrifice, fasting and prayer help to grow our spirits. Considering how blessed I have always felt, I started looking for ways to do more, not necessarily to ask and get more, but to first rejoice in how much I have.
This is why this year; I am giving up social networks during the Lenten season. I have been thinking about making this sacrifice for a while, in the name of productivity because, beyond of the time that I set apart to work on clients’ campaigns or share content for our blog, I waste a lot more just in pure procrastination and stalking, modern acts of sloth. Productivity was not convincing enough (“I need to know what’s going on”, “I need to be ‘out’ there because I live away from everybody”, “It’s helpful, I learn a lot there”, etc.), because I didn’t want to stop. Guilty pleasure or addiction? Not sure. But today is the perfect day to connect and give through my heart because I have a bigger purpose: Sacrifice as an act of gratitude for what I have received and as humble preparation for what is yet to come, thanking God for his mercy.
I will miss the Oscars’ gossip, big and small announcements, and compliments to recent and old pictures. I will also miss good news and bad news. I am sure I will hear about Daylight Savings Day (even though time doesn’t change in my current coordinates), the Irish Pubs around won’t let me forget St. Patrick’s Day and I might fall for a couple April’s Fool jokes.
I apologize in advance, because I know I will miss birthdays.
It’s OK because He gave up everything for us.
The hard part? I will miss all of you.
Wishing you a beautiful time of reflection and spiritual growth,
NOTE: I might post on the blog, but I won’t share it on the social networks until April 6th. If you would like to receive our posts, make sure you sign up below to receive them in your inbox. Thank you!