Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oh! The Sacrifice!

A lot of people are VERY uncomfortable with Jesus. I know several former Catholics who will literally stand up and walk out of a room when his name is mentioned, much like Bryan will vacate a room when an Elton John song comes on. I don't blame people for having a grudge against Jesus--many, many little kids got whumpings in his name for hundreds of years. So, yeah: if I had ever gotten a Jesus spanking, I'd probably hate the guy, too. I'm just observing that he makes a lot of modern people nervous who don't even have a reason to have beef with him. These days Jesus make people all blush-y and cringe-y like sex used to in Victorian England.

But Jesus doesn't really bother me. I was brought up by heathens in an environment that was pretty Jesus-neutral. He wasn't really on anybody's side and he wasn't used as a tool to make anybody feel guilty or inadequate. He was just a super cute, lovable baby who was responsible for all my Christmas presents. And then in middle school when my best friend's older sisters were into going to poetry slams, this King Missile song was on this tape I had:

And so that pretty much sums up what I know about Jesus: he was a smart, nice guy who tried to cut the crap and figure out how to live a worthwhile life. He advised us to love each other and he got lynched by an angry mob for it. He's not the first person this happened to, and he certainly wasn't the last. He's just the most famous.

So, I'm fan of Jesus, just like I'm a fan of Buddha, elephants, Bob Dylan and Eleanor of Aquitaine. And because Jesus was a total bad ass and spent 40 days in the wilderness, fasting and duking it out with the devil (or you know--maybe duking it out with the devil and maybe just freaking out in his own head, which is considerably more likely, but no less admirable), I observe Lent. Because my old buddy Jesus knew that sometimes you gotta lay off the sauce, whatever the sauce may be.

I am a sort of whimsically habitual person. I have these things I do, and it sort of bothers me when I can't do them--but only sometimes. For instance, a couple of days ago, Audrey came to my office and we walked to the Co-Op together for lunch. We were just walking along and I kept bumping her like a herding dog toward the route I wanted to take. She was like, "where are we going?" and I was like "um, across the Varsity lawn, down the left side of Reese Street and up the right side of Pope." There are about nine different ways to get to the Co-Op from my office, and for some reason, I needed to go that way, even if it meant jaywalking like a lunatic. On our way back, Audrey was like "Which way does Crazypants want to go now?" And I thought about it, and was like, "No preference--I really have no opinion at all." And I didn't.

That story was boring--I know that. But it illustrates my point, which is that I am kind of unpredictable, even to myself, even though I eat at the same restaurant every single damn Friday and paint my fingernails a different color every Sunday and Wednesday. And it's good every once in a while to take a look at the stuff you depend on, the stuff you enjoy, the stuff you feel like you need to keep it together, and just let it go for a while. I think we probably understand ourselves better when we do that.

So for this 40 days in the wilderness (starting yesterday), I'm giving some stuff up:

1) Sweet treats--I have a sweet tooth like you wouldn't believe, and if I asked Jesus' advice on this one, he'd probably say "Jesslyn, chill it on the Dairy Queen."

2) Going out to eat. This one's super hard for me for a number of reasons, but especially because this habit overlaps with my inner border collie that I don't totally understand. And if you're doing something you don't fully understand, I think Jesus would probably advise you to cool it for a while. Maybe I'll learn something valuable! Plus I'll save money! Plus maybe I'll learn to cook some new things!

And here's the good news: according to Wikipedia, "the six Sundays of Lent are not counted because each one represents a "mini-Easter"--a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death." Mini Easter?! Sign me up! So, I guess I'll be hitting the candy and dining out pretty hard for the next six Sundays.


Special Lenten Update: Bryan has added a special proviso to the eating out restriction! We can eat out when it's necessary for the entertainment of out-of-town guests.

Jesus wouldn't want our guests to suffer at his expense--no sir!


  1. Another take on lent:

    ...that being said, I fully admit to willing participation in the Lenten season... I'm giving up fancy coffees.
    Hey, it's something.

  2. love this post! except the part about bryan hating elton john.

  3. Good one Jessie,

    You must have learned the frivolous habit of Lenten from that fancy pants school you went to, cause at our "little ole poplar log house on the hill" there was nothing to give up for any period of time and come out of it alive. "Times was hard, money scarce, and groceries mighty plain",to borrow from Norman Blake.

    Maybe the 10 years in the mountains of WV will account for 40 days in the wilderness, and you can stop worrying about Lent. Give up Elton John as Bryan suggested and go forth, eat and giggle where, and when, you please. Their are millions out there to take your place for 6 weeks...and if I ain't there by Easter hide the eggs without me.