Friends, today is a good day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and everywhere I look I see families gathering in their pastel-colored suits and dresses to crowd the seats at their churches and celebrate Resurrection Sunday.
But none of these sights is as beautiful as the one I most recently beheld: the Netflix homepage.
That’s right folks, #Muslims4Lent has come to a close and I finally reunited with my beloved streaming service after 41 days of absence. Now to be clear, Lent only lasts 40 days — I didn’t do the extra day to overachieve. The extra day happened because I didn’t know Lent ended on Holy Thursday. Clearly, lack of Netlfix was a detriment to my research skills.
So, what golden gems of knowledge did I take away from Lent? I think the first thing that I learned was that Catholics are dedicated. It’s not just the giving-up-of-something-you-love, it’s also the Meatless Fridays that wore me down. Catholics are not allowed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent, which is why so many fast food chains brought back their own various fish filet sandwiches. Do you know what it is to hype yourself up about going home to make a cheeseburger only to remember that it’s Friday? I’ve had so much seafood in the last 41 days that I actually lost weight.
Now I would imagine that Catholics spend their time during Lent reading the Bible and prepping for Easter and explaining the Easter bunny to their children. Since I wasn’t going to do any of that, I filled my no-Netflix time with a new hobby: learning to play the ukulele. Thanks to these 41 days, I now know how to strum and sing a Meghan Trainor song and am in the beginning stages of nailing down an Ed Sheeran song. So, thanks Lent for making me just a little bit cooler.
The question that I got asked most frequently was, would I rather do Lent or Ramadan if I had to choose just one? As much as I enjoyed my Lent experience, I have to say I’d rather suffer through Ramadan. Don’t get me wrong, Lent is great but because you only have to give up a single thing, the temptation to cheat or find a loophole is a thousand times stronger — especially because I didn’t know anyone personally that was abstaining with me. It also didn’t help that soon after Lent began, the new season of House of Cards was released and I couldn’t see my bae, Claire Underwood (I’m on episode 5 now.)
And while I began this endeavor with the mindset of solidarity and interfaith unity, I end it feeling like that’s not what was achieved. In fact, striving for solidarity has shown me how unbalanced things really are between the faiths. I mean, for Lent and Easter EVERYONE is in on it. Fast food chains change their menus, card companies make special cards, clothing stores pump out poofy dresses and baskets, candy shops have special egg and rabbit-shaped treats, businesses close and we all have Lent and Easter shining in our faces like a cop’s flashlight.
But, where’s the fanfare for Eid? Or for Ramadan? “Christians celebrating Ramadan” isn’t a fun hashtag, it’s a think piece. It’s an examination of the Christian experience with starvation. Where’s the respect? Where’s the Hallmark card? When Eid rolls around, is Old Navy going to have a sale on long patterned maxi-dresses with sleeves and an accompanying headscarf? No, but they certainly sold a lot of floral Easter outfits. If we’re going to spread the love then let’s spread it everywhere, evenly.
Unbalance aside, I’m proud of all the people that successfully completed Lent, especially my new friend, Mary Who Gave Up Chocolate. Go on girl. I’m even more proud of those of you who gave something up for the sake of interfaith unity. Maybe we didn’t get there this time but we’re all on our way.