For over twenty years, I’ve been either vegetarian or vegan for Lent. When I got married, my husband joined in. Our two children, now teens, are stuck with the ride, some years more reluctantly than others. We were vegetarians on a honeymoon like trip early in our marriage– before kids, and before the more easy availability of vegetarian options. Our memory of DisneyWorld is flavored with rutabagas. A rutabaga dish at the Moroccan Epcot pavilion was the only vegetarian option available. A bunch of people said we were crazy for sticking with Lenten fast on vacation. We ate a lot of salad that trip.
No, Lent is not always convenient. Sure, maybe it would have been more convenient to do it some other time. The problem with that is that “some other time” can easily slip into “never”, and anyway, Lent is when Lent is. For those on a Christian path, the timing is specific. For others, it’s the right time because you can be in community with other people with similar goals, spiritual or otherwise. This year Western Lent starts the day before freakin’ Valentine’s day. This also brings new meaning to the word “inconvenient”.
For those kids out there who will receive recommendations to give up chocolate for Lent, this sounds like pure torture. I don’t know what to tell you, kids, other than beg your parents to save the Valentine hearts in the deep freeze for an Easter double chocolate pig out. Or, as the Ironic Catholic suggests, give up bacon instead.
This year my kids are bemoaning the timing of Lent because I’ve figured out that we can have a double Lent, from the start of Western Lent until Eastern Orthodox Easter. After some negotiation, they’ve reconciled themselves to the notion, though they insist that this year Lent is a Vegetarian affair and not a Vegan one. My son has declared Valentine’s Day a Lent Free zone, because he wants to take his girlfriend out to dinner and she’s not much of a vegetable-eater. I reminded him that he’s old enough to be the guardian of his own conscience, and pointed out that Lent is never convenient.
That inconvenience is a feature, not a bug. Lent is not meant to be convenient. Many good things aren’t convenient. Working through that inconvenience can show your own inner strength. We can do this, and it will be awesome.