When I attended the Theatre Aquarius Summer Theatre school, we mounted a musical at the end of the summer every year. Right before the stage lights went up and the orchestra started the overture, someone would say “Hey, what time is it?”, and we’d all say “SHOWTIME!” and then the whole cast would sing the theme from the Jeffersons. Well we’re moving on up, to the east side. To a deeeluxe apartment un the skyyyyy! Moving on up to the east side. We finally got a piece of the piiiiiieeee! … Seems kind of random, but it was our pre-show tradition, and it settled the nerves of everyone who was prone to stage fright. As long as we live, it’s you and me baby, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.
I loved that part.Whenever I’m nervous about whatever (figurative) stage I’m about to set foot on, I still do this.
So what stage brings us to the Jeffersons this week, you ask?
Two days hence is Fat Thursday, the harbinger of Lent. And that means the 2020 Lent Project is spooling up in the background. I didn’t do Advent before Christmas, and a few people asked me about that to make sure that they weren’t missing it somewhere. Nope, I didn’t think I had the self-reflection horsepower to do it. But now it’s Lent. And this is the big one for me. This is where it all started. So, for those who haven’t played along at home before, here’s the drill.
For RC kids, Lent is a time of austerity intended to help us focus inwards. The tenets of fasting, praying, and tithing help us to examine our conscience, to deny ourselves to better identify with those less fortunate, and to be charitable. Those are certainly good aspirations, but for me, having a singular focus seemed … hollow. More about willpower than about real relationship-building with my faith. So I started the Spring Cleaning of my Soul Lent project, and I use the themes of fast/pray/tithe to find more meaningful ways (for me) to daily reflect on ways to abandon things that are not faith-building, and adopt things that are. The goal is to be a better person after 40 days than I am today.
I know that lots of not-RC kids who use Lent as an opportunity for personal betterment, and I like that Lent can be so many things to so many people. If Lent is a time-boxed opportunity for you to improve yourself in some way, I think that’s in the spirit of the process (whether you’re RC or not).
So why start on Giovedi Grosso instead of Mardi Gras?
My mom’s heritage is Polish. My dad’s is Italian. Fat Thursday is celebrated in both of those motherlands. But I didn’t celebrate it in my house. Pancake Tuesday, sure. But, backed up all the way to Thursday, nosomuch. As an adult who works full time and spent 12 winters as a hockey mom and 7 years as a cadet-mom, and 5 years as a band mom, and volunteer obligations, my household always did the high-speed wobble into whatever was slotted into the calendar on any given day. We ate dinner in the car on the way to hockey practices and games an hour or more away from us in the Ottawa Valley for years. Cadet nights often had us picking up something for “dinner” on the way home at 10pm. So when I realized on random Mondays (since this is one of those wandering-around-the-calendar-moon-phase religious holidays) that the next day was Pancake Tuesday, I was glad to just give Child a few twoonies to get pancakes at lunch the next day.
But if I was someone more devout, who did adhere to The Big Fast of Lent, I certainly would be more prepared. I mean, I guess if I made different choices IRL, I would have as well. I guess this is the same battle I have with meal planning overall. I feel like I’m prepared, right up until I realize I’m really really not. Alas. And it’s not like I don’t know when Ash Wednesday is – in order to mentally prepare myself for the Lent Project, I have to be able to collect some thoughts and do some research. That doesn’t just happen. So it really really shouldn’t sneak up on me – in theory, I’ve known for at least a month. And yet, in some respects, way not prepared.
So backing up the train from Fat Tuesday to Fat Thursday is a bit of a gift. Personally, I like the idea of having a few extra days to get myself into the headspace, and not feeling like I’ve been shot out of a cannon into the process. The Lent Project is about spring cleaning for my soul. And every blog post and magazine article that I’ve read about getting rid of any kind of clutter – be it monkeymind, too much paperwork on your desk at work, overstuffed closets, or messy kitchen counters – you need to be ready to start. You have a much better chance of success if you’re ready to commit to the process (and fortify with jelly doughnuts. More on that later…)
So, here we go.
What time is it? It’s Showtime!