Ah, Ash Wednesday. The start of the 40-day church season that I ignore. Here's my confession: once I get my ashes, I don't do the rest of Lent.
Lent is a season of intense, purposeful self-reflection and introspection, of self-denial, of trying to make positive changes, of repentance, of prayer - all in preparation for Easter. Yeah, I tried it a few years. Read the right books and Lenten meditations (even wrote a several of those in my time), attended the right services, said the right prayers, and followed whatever guidelines and suggestions for having a meaningful Lent were offered.
But here's the thing. I already beat myself up in a hundred different ways 24/7/365. I don't need forty days to intensify the self-flagellation. Or reflection. Or introspection. I do way too much of all that already. Constantly. Very often in the wee small hours of the morning.
I read meaningful, spirit-filling books and meditations all year long. (Thank goodness for the Brene Browns, Dolly Partons, and Lin-Manuel Mirandas of the world, as well as some true-blue friends.) And prayers? Yes. Bewailing my manifold sins? Yes. Not sure I want to do more of any of that than I already do.
So Lent has never done anything for me spiritually. All that stuff is guilt-/shame-/anger-/depression-inducing for me. Even all the gazillion meditations offered fail to move me. Lent has never brought me closer to God. If anything, it just kept me in a constant state of pissed-off when I tried to follow the whole 40-day thing back in the day.
Those of you who find it spiritually meaningful, even necessary, I salute your efforts. If you think I don't understand the season or am missing the point, nah. I've seen it up, down, sideways, inside and out. I get it.
But as for me, I'll continue my year-long Lenten practices without doubling up on them for the next forty days. I guess my only Lenten discipline is ignoring the whole thing.