Lent — from the Latin, Lenten meaning to lengthen. As in the days begin to lengthen in the Spring. Ecclesiastical season of penitence and self-denial beginning on Ash Wednesday and continuing until Easter (40 days, does not include Sundays).

It is all about the birds again today. I’ve been watching the bird feeders again. It is very amusing and instructive. This time I have been focused on one particular Cardinal male. He is brilliantly hued, fat as you please, and dumb as brick. All the other birds, Cardinals included, have mastered the feeding stations, but not this one. I think for brevity I will call him Fred. Fred comes to the feeder many times a day. He sits on the rail and twists his head left then right. Then he flaps his wings, and aims for the feeder, and every time he misses. Everytime. He’s persistent. He misses everytime.

This morning I was contemplating the coming Ash Wednesday service, while watching the birds feeding in the on-going snow, and wondering if I’ll be able to attend. It is one of my favorite “church days.” I like being “marked” and knowing that the depths and heights of God’s love are being proclaimed. I like the somber tone that builds until it crescendos on Good Friday, anticipation over the weekend, and the joyful booming that “Christ has risen. Alleluia!” on Easter morning.

I’m a lot like that silly Fred. He keeps missing, but he never changes his strategy. I’ve been like that. I normally “give something up for Lent.” Usually chocolate — you know, something really important like that! The problem is that I almost always fail. The surest way to get me do something is to tell me I can’t. And how, after 48 years, did I just now notice that Sundays aren’t included in the 40 days? I mean, really . . .

So I’m changing my strategy. I’m still giving up chocolate. I mean it wouldn’t be Lent if I didn’t. It is tradition! However, since Sundays are still a celebration of resurrection, I hereby give myself permission to eat chocolate on Sundays during Lent. Surely to goodness, knowing that Sunday is coming will strenghten my resolve the other 6 days.

I’ve put all my chocolate money in an envelope. Each Sunday I will take out enough for one bar. On Easter the difference between what I normally spend and what I spend during Lent will go Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, KY. They do amazing work.

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