Well, it’s Fat Tuesday, and amidst all the consumption of Paczki and Pancakes and such, I need to decide today what I’m doing for Lent. Which — gulp — starts tomorrow. And I want your help.

In the past, I’ve tried the “giving up” strategy. I’ve given up sweets, television, meat, makeup, and spending money on non-grocery items. I could do any of those again except give up TV, because I’m teaching a course this term on religion and popular culture and we watch a lot of clips.

But it feels like old hat to me. While I appreciate the idea of sacrifice, I worry that my Lenten disciplines have too often devolved into self-improvement experiments. I’d like to have my Lenten be a time of spiritual deepening and preparation for Easter, not just a religious veneer over a quest for thinner thighs.

What have you done that actually pushed you spiritually? (And if it’s dietary — go ahead and tell me! Just because that wasn’t very spiritual for me doesn’t mean it wasn’t for you.) Have you volunteered at a soup kitchen? Found ways to love your neighbor? Prayed more? Done daily devotions? Read a particular part of the Bible? Given up something that meant a lot to you?

Thanks for any and all suggestions. –JKR

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