It’s not really a ‘giving up’ sort of thing, but it has become essential to my Lenten practice over the last several years. Don’t laugh: it’s my choice of earrings. I wear purple or black earrings during Lent. Occasionally I allow myself plain silver ones. Very occasionally.
This may sound like a very small thing, but it has a significant effect. Because I do wear earrings every day (I know not everyone does), I remind myself every morning as I am getting ready that it is Lent. I don’t always to have a list of things I am giving up, but just being aware every day that it’s a penitential season makes a difference.
For example, let’s say I’m having a mid-morning coffee and think about a sweet snack to accompany it. Then I remember it’s Lent. I just have the coffee. Five o’clock rolls around, and a cocktail or a glass of wine might be nice. It’s been a tough day (aren’t they all, these lockdown days?). I remember it’s Lent. Maybe I’ll have some herbal tea instead.
I suppose that restricting my earring choice is like putting on the shield of self-denial, as this morning’s collect at Lauds says. Of course, I don’t practice perfect penitence just because I’m wearing purple earrings. But it does help me to stick to whatever other practice I’ve decided to adopt for Lent. That’s going to be especially helpful this year, as the main thing I am trying to give up is getting angry. (Pray for me, please!)
And, of course, wearing somber earrings for several weeks makes me that much happier to don my favourite pearls when Easter comes.