When I think of Lent, I can't help but think of Johnny Depp. My priest would probably not appreciate that -- on many many levels -- especially since Lent begins a period of sacrifice and self-deprivation. But c'mon, it's Johnny Depp we're talking about. There is no DEPPrivation in Johnny Depp. Or maybe there is. But I'm pretty sure Jesus will understand. He's good like that.
I think of Johnny Depp from that movie he starred in a while back with Juliette Binoche (who I actually love more than Johnny Depp) called Chocolat, where a woman (played by Juliette) and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village in the middle of Lent, shaking the morality of the residents to their knees as they try to resist her decadent treats.
Okay so it wasn't the best movie in the world, and it didn't portray Catholics in the nicest light, but then again, it doesn't have to be perfect. It was starring Johnny Depp!
I remember Al Molina's character, the mayor of the town, sitting behind his desk in front of his plate of tea and toast, fuming over the idea of a chocolate shop during the most important season of the liturgical calendar. And I laugh because that's what most people think of as Lent. That it's one of those restrictive, awful, religious times where the church forces you to suffer, sacrifice, and do without the things you love in life. Not to mention that black gunk the priest smears on your head on Ash Wednesday, making everyone look at you funny, like you just had a run-in with a leaky pen.
Why would anyone do that?
Well, let me tell you why, because it works. At least for me. Lent is hard. That's the point. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. By giving up all those things you love, including sweets, but also a lot of the material stuff in our lives that we cling to like idols, it helps you focus on all the things that really matter. Not that new couch that's finally gone on sale, but your kids and your family. Like charity and giving back to others. Like really thinking about your beliefs, making sure you are aligned with them. That doesn't sound all that bad does it?
So yes I confess: I love Lent. It's renewal and springtime and the promise of life and Easter Bunnies and Cadbury Creme Eggs all rolled into one. With a LOT less calories.
Image via IMDB