Monday, February 20, 2012

Something to give up for Lent

who we are image - flag featuring a pioneer shield

I have been an active Pioneer for about five years now. This means I have taken a vow to abstain from alcoholic drink for life. Like most Irish Catholic youth, I originally made a pledge to abstain from 'drink' when I made my confirmation. Like most, I did not live up to that promise!

I also took the Pioneer pledge sometime in my late teens ... my mother got the idea that one could get cheaper car insurance if one had taken the pledge ... well, I didn't drink much, so I took it ... maybe I thought there was a car in there for me as part of the deal? I must have misunderstood ... to be fair, she did pay for driving lessons!

So, another pledge broken ... time passed, and from my mid-20's on I got into the habit of periodically giving up drink for a month or so ... not that I drank a lot, but it seemed like a good thing to do both as self-discipline as well as being healthy. After a bit more time, it seemed not unreasonable to make that self-discipline part of my spiritual disciplines for Lent.

So for perhaps five Lents in a row, I gave up the gargle. During the course of the final one five years ago, I decided about half-way in to consider giving it up for good. There were some issues relating to alcohol & addiction with some people close to me at the time which I won't go into ... plus I was a bit turned off by what I was seeing in society around me in relation to alcohol. So I signed up for a temporary pledge. After about a year, I decided to make it permanent.

A slight side effect of taking the pledge is that I am on the Pioneer's emailing list! A few weeks ago they sent me a poster for me to display(see below) to encourage people to take a temporary pledge for Lent. There used to be a great tradition of that in Ireland. Maybe not so much anymore? Or perhaps people give it up without involving the Pioneers? I don't know ... but if you are thinking of giving it up, why not take the temporary pledge ... and send off to the Pioneers for a short-term badge to wear while you are doing it. Show the world what you are doing! Not out of a sense of vain display, but rather as a form of witness. One thing I have found in wearing the Pioneer badge is that it is a great conversation started. Perhaps if you wear one for Lent it may start a conversation with someone ... maybe someone who is struggling with addiction ... and that conversation may be the start of something that changes their life.

Something that we can all pray for this Lent. (& perhaps you would also pray that I may have the grace to stick with the pledge this time?)


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