Posted On February 16, 2024

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make.


Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level.

As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association called the Vanilla Ice Cream Eaters of America Social Aide and Pleasure Club. It’s known by its acronym: VICEA. Our motto is “It comes from Udder Space” and our logo shows a scoop of vanilla with Saturn rings around it and a Holstein cow walking across it. We’ve had a Facebook page since 2008 edited by Holt Stein. It has fifteen members.

However, I don’t eat vanilla like I used to. It’s gotten expensive. That plus my waist size. Giving up ice cream is, well, too easy. I love the stuff but giving it up wouldn’t equate to enough suffering.

A friend from long ago gave up everything containing wheat for lent. Everything. That’s a lot of stuff. She had to pay close attention to everything she ate. Anything with flour. All beer. Bunches of stuff. She was the same person who kept a bowl of peanut M&Ms at her front door and allowed herself one M&M per day. No more. I eat peanut M&Ms by the double fist full. If they’re in front of me, I eat them. I can’t stop. She had a degree of self-control that is unrelatable.

Another friend gave up alcohol a few years ago. However, he had devised a chart of “skip days” where he could drink. He explained all this over a beer during Lent, by the way. His skip days were quite frequent, and it appeared to the rest of us like they related to the days that he wanted a drink. I was not impressed with his Lenten suffering. Mainly because there wasn’t any.

The good book says we’re created in the image of the Lord. So, imagine hearing prayers saying “I’m planning to remember a big event in your life in about forty days. To prepare properly, I’m implementing things to temporarily remove joy from my life.” I’d say, “Wait. Pardon me? Say that again. Is that what I’m supposed to want from you?”

One year I tried to drink more water for lent. The health effects of more water and all that but it’s not the same. The gest of lent is giving up something you enjoy.

And I’m not sure what to think about it. All the hard-fast black and white rules that I learned as a child have faded into grey. I wish they hadn’t. I knew the rules, I followed the rules, and I counted on the rules to take care of me. It was easier following and never questioning. Now, I question. A lot. And, believe it or not, it’s made me a better follower.

However, I still don’t know what to do about lent.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

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