Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Keeping Lent

I decided to give up buying books for Lent. It was either that or beer. How hard could it be? I kept the beer and went with the books. I should have known. My addiction was worse than I thought. To books. I hadn't taken notice that I had begun hiding my Amazon book boxes from my wife. I was in denial about timing the UPS truck and meeting the guy outside the front door before he rang the door bell. Sometimes my wife would hear me talking outside. Who was that, she would ask, when I came back in. Oh just some Jehovah's Witnesses, I said. I handled it. There were times when she caught me red handed. Are  you keeping track of how many books you are buying, she would ask. Of course, I said. I had a rough idea. Until, I really took a close look at the credit card statement. Oh my gosh, there must be a clerical error. It can't be that much. Those Kindle books, so easy to buy, so quick to add up. Then, I looked at my bookshelves. I have had to add more shelving. Two full rows of books on the to be read shelf. I admitted to myself there might be a problem. So, I decided to face it head one. No more books during Lent. I let my wife in on my Lenten discipline. She couldn't believe I would be able to do it. I almost didn't. It was harder than I thought. I stayed out of Barnes and Noble, and off I discreetly read the NY Times book section. I didn't exactly have the cold sweats but there were times I wondered why I had done this. I almost gave in when I took some books to the used book store and exchanged them for a couple of used ones. I was up front with my wife and she questioned whether I was keeping the spirit of my Lenten discipline. I didn't see her point. So, now Lent is almost over. I checked and some religious authorities say Lent is over Palm Sunday, or some say the day before Maundy Thursday and the most rigorous Lenten practitioners keep it right up til the dawn of Easter morning. I will probably go for the mid Holy Week one (since I will be in Oregon very close to Powell's bookstore).

What have I learned from my Lenten sacrifice? I had given up something that was very important to me so I was reminded of Lent numerous times and why I was doing what I was doing. In the larger scheme of things I had given up very little but I had given up something. Much of the time I get what I want. I don't stop to think. This Lenten practice stopped me to think. It made me think I buy too many books, I have too many books, I don't need so many books. I use book buying to fulfill other needs. And it made me think it's not just books.

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