Mode: Que Dieu me soutienne..
A week ago (Ash Wednesday), the Lenten season officially commenced.
Last year, I found it cute how she would constantly find ways of trying to get me to disclose which of the many vices/indulgences/temptations/addictions of this world I had decided to deprive myself of for 40 days and 40 nights. This year, I’m going to share it with you all and her as well. I am giving up two things: white lies and profanities for Lent. There, I said it. Now you know. I know what you’re thinking – it’s not possible, right? Especially for me, because those happen to be the two things I do almost automatically. Involuntarily, too. Allow me to briefly elaborate:
Men specialize in white lies. Any woman that has even spent enough with any man will tell you as much. All men do it. Daily. Hourly even. I will not deny that I am part of this
in fact, I’m texting a pseudo-lie to three separate people while I’m writing this sentence. The thing about me and my white lies is that I’ll always try and justify it either a way of protecting the people around me from certain ugly truths that must not be disclosed. Atleast not by me. the reality of things and other things I deem unimportant. Other reasons I found myself white-lying was to wiggle out of any social gatherings and events that are not directly related to official work. Between us, I’m enjoying the quiet life. Staying indoors, reading, thinking, bonding with the family and generally trying to figure stuff out.
It seems being in Kenya has turned me into quite the potty mouth. I don’t go around insulting people’s mothers at random or anything like that. But it generally doesn’t take much for me to unleash verbal tongue-lashes
with facial and hand gestures to boot on the unsuspecting public wherever and whenever at the slightest hint of provocation. I guess most of my colleagues have just come to think I have a short temper or anger management issues or I just need to get laid or something. But I’ve noticed it, the foul language – and I’m not particularly happy with it. I’m not that kinda guy. I’m a Scorpio for goodness sake not a Taurus! *grin* Okay, yeah so the plan is to go back to the basics and keep my mouth shut or at the very minimum civilly get my point across without everything I utter turning into a Slim Shady verse.
So there you have it. Those are the two things I’m “giving up” for Lent. Inch’allah, I shall phase them both out from my life altogether.
But telling you what I’m giving up for Lent is not the reason I’m here. There’s something deeper that has been on my mind for a very long time now.
I am growing. I’m changing, spiritually speaking. I am no longer a spiritual child. In retrospect, I understand why the catholic church I grew up in, insisted on all the strong symbolism, the countless rituals, the reciting and memorizing of prayers, the rigid catechism instruction, the scriptures, rosary, the confessional, the sacrament. Back then, I was a spiritual child. It made no sense to explain to me why certain things are viewed as sins while others are not. I was not old enough to understand that the holy scriptures could be interpreted in more than one way, that the views and ideas emanating from that pulpit every Sunday were just as open to discussion and critique as any other articulated thoughts. As a spiritual child, I was spoon-fed a ready-made interpretation of the Good Book and made to cram the 10 commandments, recite passages and know when to kneel and when to stand and when to kneel again. Just like a child in nursery school, it was decided for me that the only I could understand that 1+1=2 is if one object is placed on the table infront of me followed by a second one, side by side.
But like I said, I am no longer a spiritual child. I know what the 10 commandments are but I have questions. I’ve always had questions. Now I want to understand, I want to have the power to decide how I should live my spiritual life. I may not have all the answers but spiritually I am not satisfied with just blindly following rituals and symbolism. That is what spiritual adolescence is all about. Like being in a family where no one thinks I notice that both my parents are pretending that everything is alright, meanwhile I can sense the tension, I’ve noticed the hostility, I’ve heard them fighting and I already know that very soon I’ll have two separate addresses I call home. The same can be said about the current relationship between the catholic church and myself. My spirituality resides both in the second last row I always sit in during Sunday mass as well as someplace within my consciousness where other things like rationalization, experience and emotion reside too.
I confess there are a lot of things I have grown to appreciate and love about Catholicism, especially Lent (the idea of physical and spiritual renewal), Easter (the idea of remembering and celebrating the passion of Christ, his death and resurrection) and Christmas, ofcourse. But as I approach spiritual adulthood, I know it is irrational to fear moral sanction for believing in more than what the Catholic faith tells me to. I am free to fill the god-shaped hole in my consciousness with other things that I have come to know through my travels, through my readings, through my interactions with others and most importantly through my own life- experiences.
Therefore if you read the first part of this post and thought I was a devout catholic or as some say a ‘practicing catholic’ (whatever that means), I am sorry to disappoint you but I am not. I like the idea of Lent prima facie and that’s why I am fasting. I’m not doing it because I’m a catholic and I’m required to do it. I’m doing it for myself. I can see its usefulness, its purpose and I submit myself to it. However I refuse to submit myself to any and all aspects of catholicism. We all have a right to chose the manner in which we want to live. I know I am not perfect so I don’t need the guilt of going through Friday confession and Sunday mass to be reminded of this fact. I’d rather make my own mistakes and learn from them. I’d rather say my own prayers, from the heart, whether I happen to be in a church or
in a fully furnished, thatched-roof hut with a Landcruiser ’76 parked outside anywhere else.
In short, I’m just an ordinary guy in his spiritual adolescence, chasing his dreams, constantly humbled by life’s lessons, slowly becoming the kind of man I’m pretty sure the divine creator intended me to be.
Now Playing: Charles Hamilton – “Tears of Fire”