hit the showers

What were you willing to give up for Lent?

As I made my way through Lent this year I was increasingly reluctant to post even on my own blog (even more so over here where there’s actually an audience). It was a deeply moving experience for me and difficult to wrap words around–you’d really have to do it to understand. To sum up, if you’re new: for Lent this year I gave up the right to use traditional shower & laundry facilities. I could wash and bathe, but to do so I only allowed myself 15 minutes every other day over a bathroom sink to do so.

Here’s the post-Easter wrap-up on the outfit:

I was back in my Doc Marten’s boots within 15 minutes of showering.

The shirt didn’t make it. I tried machine washing it once, but the paint spots didn’t come off the shoulder and the Sharpie mark from where I walked into a door is there to stay. Plus the little tabby things in the points of the collar had curled up and looked funny.

The socks are on probation; I washed them and put them back in the closet pending further review.

The boxers were a complete disaster. They tore at some point and by the end of Lent had nearly become two separate garments. Trash.

Kenneth Cole “Reaction” slacks are the finest pair of pants created by humankind. My pants never got washed a single time and remained comfortable and inoffensive for the entire experience. Occasionally they were dusty and there were a couple of near-disaster events (mostly involving spilled food), but they remain my favorite pants. If you’d like a pair just like mine, you face some distinct challenges. I got them along with 2 other pairs of pants, a shirt, a pair of boy’s shoes, a boy’s t-shirt, and a kindergarten nap mat for a dollar at a local thrift store. The odds of finding such an arrangement again are already stacked against you, doubled by the fact that the store was destroyed by a tornado a year ago and isn’t going to be rebuilt.

Sadly, on Saturday night within 14 hours of breaking my fast I sat in gum. You’re right, it does sound like a perfect accident considering my condition. But I wasn’t sitting under a bridge, I was sitting in a restaurant where some idiot stuck their gum to the seat of their chair. Who does this?


What I learned:

People don’t care at all if you wear the same thing every day. Most people didn’t notice. We walk around so worried about how we look, smell, etc. that we really very rarely process how other people do. People that knew about it from the beginning told me that by 3 weeks in they’d forgotten that I was wearing the same clothes every day. People that didn’t know but that had seen me multiple times already said that they’d been completely unaware. The appearance hell that we drag ourselves through on a daily basis is self-created. You care more about you than anybody else does. Stop worrying about it.

I have way too many clothes. I don’t think this part is for everybody. I really don’t think that there’s anything wrong with owning lots of clothes. But if I’m trying to live with less, that’s an area to clear out. I wrote a series for our youth through Lent this year aimed at reducing, reusing, and recycling all of the extra spiritual/material excess in our lives–our group generated over 400lbs of clothes to donate to a local shelter. I hit my closet hard. I now own roughly a week’s worth of clothing. I’d encourage you to set aside a week’s worth of clothing from your closet, just to look at it; it’s a fascinating insight into so much and so little all at once. Many, many people don’t possess that much clothing, yet I’ve been raised in a culture that worries about wearing the same shirt within a two week period.

You can’t pretend to be homeless. You just can’t. There are too many people that care about you, too many resources available to you, and the simple mental strength of knowing I’m not really homeless makes it all pretty bearable–if you’re faking it, like I’ve been. Even if I’d moved outside for Lent I think I’d feel the same way.

I’ve never felt closer to the person of Jesus. Not closer to being like. Like I was getting to follow his footsteps. Not even so much as a disciple; more like an observer. I was talking with a friend at lunch last week about it and related how three-dimensional the glimpses into the life of Christ had become for me. I can’t imagine a ministry spent walking. I can’t imagine the sheer physical exertion of getting to your chosen mountainside quiet time. And I can’t imagine facing Gethsemane not showered, sweaty, hands still gritty from washing the disciples’ feet. The gospel and the kingdom come not quietly, perfectly, & serenely meek and mild with candlelight Kincade-ing out the barn windows. The gospel and the kingdom come with blood, sweat, and tears on the feet of those who bear it.

And I’m not certain that I’m ready to be that disciple. But I’m aware of the path.



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