As observant Christians have no doubt noticed, this year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day, Feb. 14. So, do we celebrate love, or do we sacrifice? Is there some way that these two “holy” days are connected?  Personally, I plan to celebrate my love for my husband on Valentine’s Eve which of course is also Mardi Gras – a traditional day of fun and feasting. But beyond playing games with the calendar, I think a good case can be made that when we sacrifice our time and possessions for the good of others, it’s a genuine form of love.

So…back to Lent. As Lent approaches each year, my mind typically starts exploring What should I do for Lent this year? Sure, I generally fast from sweets and try to eat no meat which reminds me of people for whom being hungry is not a choice. It’s a gesture of solidarity with the poor and a humbling spiritual awareness. BUT, I still feel the desire to sacrifice beyond eating. So far I’ve narrowed this down to 3 possibilities:

  1. A Plastic Free Lent – In this scenario I would “fast” from buying anything made of OR packaged in plastic. Since my husband does the primary grocery shopping, it might be cheating to just let him buy the food that’s packaged in plastic so I don’t have to count it. Also, it doesn’t seem fair to impose my commitment on him. In addition, the packaging I typically get comes unbidden – like something I order on-line and didn’t realize it would be packaged in plastic.
  2. One-A-Day Give-Aways – Although I’ve done this in some past Lents, I’m embarrassed to look around our home and notice that there are clothes that I haven’t worn in over a year, books that I’ll never read again – even for reference, toys I’ve been saving for out of town grandchildren, and sports equipment that I’ve aged out of. It’s all well organized but could others use my extras?
  3. Clearing Clutter – Related to the Give-Aways is stuff that nobody else can use like travel mementos that fill 4 bookcases, file cabinets filled with probably obsolete papers, plus my desk that has too many loose papers reminding me of things to do that are waiting to be done.

I’m not sure which of the above I should do. Could I do all of them? Should I try? If you were faced with the above choices what would you do?

Or even better – what kind of Lenten sacrifices are you considering? Go ahead and put your ideas in the comment section. It might lead me and others to expand our ideas of how Lent can deepen our spiritual life and help us to love our neighbors more fully.

PS: For those who care, Bottled Water Contains More Plastic Particles Than Previously Thought.(Bloomberg, Jan. 2024)