Well hey there.  What am I thinking about?  God, naturally. 

That is not what you are thinking about?  Liar.  With this market and economy, even athiests are praying their behinds off daily.  Everyone is a sky-looking God seeker these days.  "Dear God, make it stop!"  "God, I swear I will stop buying wasteful Starbucks lattes if you just make my 401K go back to where it was!"  "Dear God, it's me Margaret." 

Awww, hell, I don't know if you are thinking about God, but as uncool as it is to admit these days, I am.  Why?  Because Lent starts one week from tomorrow and every year I give up something interesting for Lent.  In the past I have given up wine, red meat, any and all alcohol, any and all meat/poultry, french fries (just as hard as red meat), television, non-essential shopping and complaining.  Per my father's advice, at times I have also taken something on such as training for a half-marathon, or some other such goodness.  I always enjoy the dedication and sacrifice, the break from routine, and the challenge that Lent presents.  So this year, the first year after my father's death, Lent becomes all the more important.  Participating in the season of Lent is a way for me to honor my dad.  So, I am seeking thoughts and ideas.

To be clear, I actually have no idea if God exists; yet, I consider myself religious.  As a preacher's kid, I am frequently asked "Oh, so are you very religious?"  I am tempted at these moments to start preaching the gospel and trying to convert friends and acquaintances to be SAVED and/or RE-BORN (pick your poison), but thus far have refrained.  People would see through me in a second…let's be honest, I am an Episcopalian – the word "Jesus" gives me the willies.

In my sphere of career colleagues, believing in God is a generally unpopular viewpoint, reserved for half-wit lunatics wielding a political agenda, or for some new-age fruitcake who eats only flax seeds and has unwashed hair.  WE are investors in technology who like evidence, science, facts and figures.  Ain't no facts really around God, last I checked, except for all of us loonies that think it/he/she may exist. 

Yet still, I think I believe.  I say, "I think" because in the last few years I have started to question my belief in God (for the record, I just moved to the other side of the couch out of fear that my father would strike me down with lightning from the heavens…note the irony).  I like evidence, facts, figures and analysis.  I think the whole idea of a person rising from the dead is insane.  Walking on water?  After enough glasses of wine, anyone might think they can see someone walk on water.  Water into wine?  I have served some pretty plunky stuff to drunken guests in my years (college, 1992, keg party, ran out of beer, told everyone we made "special" Kool-Aid, and well, people start to drink the Kool-Aid).  The Ark?  I cannot even begin to defend that.  I also don't believe in ideas like "God will provide" etc.  Last I checked, my husband and I wrote our last mortgage check and I bet we will have to repeat that process this month.  I believe in The Self.

And yet.

We don't have a cure for the common cold (though apparently one is on the horizon – any minute now).
Nobody has figured out a formula for why two people might be attracted to one another.
What defines and generates and maintains love?

And science?  Well, science seems to evolve too, so who says it contains absolute truths?

And the final thing is, I am way too humble to think that humans are the highest form of intelligence that exist.  If that is the case, we are all doomed.  Just look at what we do to one another, to our world, to children, to plants and animals.  Are we really the best out there?  If there is something more intelligent, would we humans really be able to outwit it and figure that out?

I have no idea. 

So, I try to believe because I like the idea that we are not just here as a science experiment that, ultimately, means nothing.

This is why I practice Lent.  It's personal, practical, a challenge, relies on the Self and for me, may just bring out a little of the Divine in every day.

Ideas welcomed for creative Lenten give-ups.