Giving Up the Fat
Happy Fat Tuesday. Let’s begin with confessions: I’ve never celebrated Fat Tuesday or eaten a king cake. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras. In fact, I’ve been to 112 countries, but I’ve actually never stepped foot in New Orleans.
Now that’s out of the way, here is why I’m extremely qualified to write a blog post about this auspicious day: I’m alive.
I mostly know about Fat Tuesday because it is the day before Lent begins, and I’m kind of a dork about the season of giving things up.
Typically when I declare what I’m doing for Lent, my friends look at me blankly and say, “Um, I didn’t know you were Catholic.”
Confession #2: I know little about Catholicism other than that the Pope just resigned.
Let me let you in on a secret, you don’t have to be Catholic to give something up for Lent. If you are Catholic – three cheers for you (and good luck with the Pope thing).
But, why on earth would anyone in their right mind who is not Catholic willing give anything up for Lent – or any other time during the year, you ask?
It isn’t about what you’re giving up. It is about making space.
In today’s world, our lives are full. We typically don’t give up anything unless we are forced to do so in order to make room for something else we want more.
Recently I’ve been on a super-yoga kick and I’ve tried a few meditation classes. I’m hopeless. It is quite easy to stop my body and sit in a fancy pose, but it is just too difficult to stop my mind.
I remember a lesson I learned once from a simple science experiment: If you take a raw egg and spin it on a flat surface, it will keep going like a top. When you reach out and stop it with your finger (but don’t hold on to it), it will start spinning again. Eggs are like humans. You can stop the outside, but you can’t stop the insides.
When I give something up without filling the vacancy, it gives me the space to stop spinning.
You don’t have to believe anything special to qualify for this space- being alive is enough. But if you do make this space, you may just figure out what it is that you do believe.