Disclaimer! This Is Not A Religious Post

What have you given up for Lent?

The Lenten season is upon us.

Although most folks don’t actually practice it. LifeWay Research found that only 24% of Americans engage in this period of fasting and moderation (even to the point of self-denial). Not only Catholics but other Protestant denominations observe it, however.

Disclaimer! This is not a religious post 🙂

Beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday, the length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century. Basically, it’s a period of self-denial that serves to remind people of the value of repentance.

Most folks I know though think of Lent as a cleansing after Fat Tuesday (although it came about vice-versa). Might as well eat, drink, and practice debauchery when Holy Season begins the next day!

I’m clearly not Catholic. Nor do I belong to a traditional church. And my spiritual practices don’t include dogma, or standardized rituals. But years ago, I did belong to a quite non-traditional, all-inclusive church, and the pastor there, Charlotte Dunhill, was big on practice. Lent was one of the things we engaged in, and it stuck with me all these years.

We didn’t then (nor do I now) practice in the manner of giving up chocolate or wine of any of the things we physically ingest, although lots of folks find spiritual practice in that.

Ours was (and is) of the psychological realm.

I hadn’t really thought of that this year, as I had a litter due just before Fat Tuesday. Which then came 2 days early. And, um, well—we have 13.

Thirteen. Labrador puppies. I’m fairly certain I’m still in my bizarre pre-whelp dream (which I have every time), and I’ll wake up to find a normal-sized reasonable litter.

Keeps not happening though. Every time I look up (as I am now, writing this while sitting with them in the box), I see 13 babies.

Dear Holy Mother of God.

We had some tiny ones. They were just packed in there. Two needed a lot of help. Ms. Purple caught on pretty quick. But the little wee boy, well, he was in ICU for days. Small, weak, not one who would have survived in the wild. As my ex would have said, it’s the law of the jungle. But as I always countered, we don’t live in the jungle. And we’re gonna do all we can to save them.

So, 24/7, we worked with him. I won’t bore you with the details. But suffice to say among the many other things we did, I would open his mouth and put him on a gushing teat and hold him there, as he was too weak to nurse on his own. And he wouldn’t accept formula.

Every time I came down for my shift, my first question was, “Is Mr. Green still with us?”

What have you given up for Lent or of late?

Mr Green At 1 Week

Yes, we fretted.

The Wednesday after they were born on a Saturday, I awakened and my first thought came: You have to let him go. And I knew it to be true.

If he was still alive, that didn’t mean quitting the help we were giving hm. But rather, letting go of whether he lived or died.

Letting go of the outcome.

What have you given up for Lent or of late?

The horde Week 1

Milk comas week 2

Because despite our best efforts, life is often not in our hands.

Not lost was the fact that this day began Lent, and of course, I knew what my challenge was for this season—letting go the outcome in all things.

Um . . . . Surely my Source misspoke . . .

Now, this may not be your nemesis. But I would prefer to control the outcome of things. Even though I know the futility of that!

Yet and still . . .

There are a number of goals I desire—greatly. Dreams I want badly, which I know would make my life better. And the world, a better place. I promise!

And for which I work very hard.

Brass rings, and those such things.

The kinds of ambitions for which saying, “I can’t control the outcome” sounds sane and reasonable. But in practice, the disappointments cut deeply indeed.

Tough to do, that working hard for a dream. Tougher to continue doing so, while letting go of what happens. But so much of that is out of my control. I know that.

Yet and still . . .

Since then, I’ve of course had numerous opportunities to practice. I mean, there’re 46 days in Lent! Come on, Easter! But then, Easter gets here when she damn well wants to, and I can’t hurry that either.

So I sit here grateful for these healthy babies and healthy mama. Appreciating my writing of fiction and non. Happy to have a successful business and roof over our heads.

And letting go, letting go, letting go.

Oh—and Mr. Green? He’s a fighter! Although still little, all supportive care is over and he’s nursing vigorously and thriving.

Mr. Green 2 wks

Even though I let him go, I’m right happy and grateful he’s still with us.

What have you given up for Lent or of late?

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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36 comments
Lori English says March 15, 2017

Susan.
A great article the puppies are so cute and so many of them this is a blessing. It seems they are all doing well. Great pictures of them, too.

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Tamuria says March 15, 2017

First, congratulations of that wonderful, and large, litter, Susan. The pictures are adorable. I’m so happy Mr Green is holding his own now. Letting go can be tough but it is sometimes the only way to move forward.
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Katarina Andersson says March 16, 2017

A great story, and how cute puppies. I am happy that it all went well…:-)

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Candess says March 16, 2017

Wonderful experience and photos of puppies. For Lent this year I continued being off sugar. It has been an uphill battle and I feel so much better!
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Robin says March 16, 2017

What an adorable story of letting go. I am thrilled Mr. Green is still fighting. I suppose that is the story for so many situations; the struggle is real, but can’t stop the fight. I love the idea of giving up something for Lent, and will really seek this out. It is good for all of us.

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Beverley Golden says March 16, 2017

Ah, yes. Letting go…something those of us who love being in control often are challenged to do. I think I have been letting go of needing to know the outcome, and have been much more trusting that something (even though I don’t know what it is) is coming towards me. The key is to stay open and to be willing to say ‘yes’.

Just reading your post, Susan, I wonder if in the letting go, we actually allow something to be without pressure from us. It seems with Mr. Green might have a strong enough will to keep him alive, wanting to be here! Congratulations on the incredible litter…I’m curious if this is the largest you’ve ever had? The babies are so precious and I hope they all continue to thrive and live long healthy lives. Thanks for the reminders that anytime of year is really a good time to let go!
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    Susan Malone says March 16, 2017

    That’s exactly what I’m working on too, Beverley–trusting that something is coming toward me, and I have to let go of controlling what that is.
    Yes–this is the largest litter I’ve had! Challenging but oh-so worth it. They are so precious. Up on their feet, peepers open, flocking to me and their four-legged mama whenever they’re awake. Ahhhh–puppy breath!
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Vatsala Shukla says March 16, 2017

As a Hindu, I don’t follow Lent, although in my Faith, we do have fasting for a period of 10 days for Ma Durga and we can fast any day of the week depending upon our choice. Fasting is good for a complete detox and gives the digestive system a rest. A little trivia here, Susan. India’s 2nd Prime Minister used to advocate that we fast 1 day a week and donate the food that we had given up to a needy hungry person. A good deed indeed!

On the matter closest to my heart, I’m happy Mr Green made it. We’ve had litters of dachshunds in our home and the situation where the mother has been too weak and needed assistance or 1 pup dies and the mother loses interest in the litter and then we have been put in a situation of taking milk on the finger to feed the puppy or dipping cotton in milk and giving it to the puppy.

Mercifully the pups would survive until the mother would return to her live pups. It’s an experience that one can’t really describe, just feel in the heart.

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    Susan Malone says March 16, 2017

    I LOVE the idea of fasting and giving the food to someone hungry! What a fabulous practice, all the way around.
    Having a litter is really a labor of love, isn’t it. That first week or two is so very crucial, and often circumstances come about that make it more challenging. And yes, exactly–the experience is hard to describe, but lives deeply in our hearts . . .
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Joyce Hansen says March 16, 2017

Giving up is something you can do temporarily, Arriving at a point of letting go is a lot harder. I’ve tried to turn it instead into sharing. I share our time together until one has to leave for somewhere else. I share the things that make me happy and then send them to a new home. I share my thoughts and let them go where they may.
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Reba Linker says March 17, 2017

This is such a beautiful and touching post, Susan. Letting go… of the result. Wow. So challenging sometimes – I’m with you on that. I also really love and appreciate your very personal take on Lent as a spiritual practice that is an ‘inside job’ and not solely an ‘outer ritual. Deeply appreciative of this post.
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Teresa Salhi says March 17, 2017

Kudos to Mr Green! Oh yes the journey of letting go is near and dear to me. I don’t practice lent but I do practice letting go. Sometimes I am better than other times. It ha been a yearly theme of mine in the past too. You’d think I had to let go of all I needed to but lo and behold that process allowed me to expand and uplevel which brought me to a whole new area of awareness and thus a few more tweaks on the letting go are in order. 🙂 Such a delight to ready your story – as always. Peace and blessing to you and your new little family.

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    Susan Malone says March 17, 2017

    Isn’t it funny how that goes, Teresa–the process of letting go takes us to new awareness, and more letting go! Ah, the life of contrast 🙂
    Mr. Green is totally part of the pack now! He is so precious.
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Natasha Botkin says March 18, 2017

Very nice synopsis of love. Thanks for sharing. Xoxo

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Joan M Harrington says March 18, 2017

Hey Susan 🙂

Letting go of the outcome is something I struggle with daily lol but I know that learning how to do that will not only help me personally but will be a great skill to master in my business as well.

Love the fact that when you decided to “let go” of the outcome, the little puppy kept fighting 🙂

Love that he is still ” there and thriving”

Thanks for sharing!!

Always enjoy reading your posts!

Side note: As I grew up Catholic I do not follow any of the traditional stuff that you should be doing for Lent…..I consider myself a Christian and I am learning how to become more attuned to my higher spiritual self 🙂
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    Susan Malone says March 20, 2017

    Though I didn’t grow up Catholic, I’ve found that letting go of something for Lent always pays spiritual dividends for me. God knows why! Lol. And that letting go of the outcome helps me enormously. Although it hasn’t been easy!
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Alene Geed says March 20, 2017

I was raised in a non traditional church and have never practiced lent. That being said I do see the virtue of giving up a habit for a period of time. Loved your saga of the puppies. Hope that Mr Green hangs in there

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Tandy Elisala says March 20, 2017

O.M.G. I LOVE this post… I adore dogs. 13 puppies… I would be in heaven. I’m so glad Mr. Green decided to stay with us! I’m not particularly religious either and haven’t really given up anything. Everything in moderation:-)
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Lorii Abela says March 21, 2017

Glad to be introduced to Mr. Green!. True, we can’t control the outcome of things. Win, lose or draw, we are in the game of life.

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Jennifer Quisenberry says March 21, 2017

Yay for Mr. Green! We had a lab with 11 pups when I was growing up, and we had a Mr. Green. His name was Willy. He was deformed and he walked with his neck stretched so that he was always looking at at his tail. It was hard. Doing what you can for someone you love, it’s very difficult to not get invested in the outcome. I hope Mr. Green continues to thrive!
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    Susan Malone says March 22, 2017

    Maybe we should retire that collar color, Jennifer! See-there I go trying to control the outcome by superstitious means. Lol. But our Mr. Green is thriving!
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webly says March 22, 2017

The puppies are simply too adorable. I kept scrolling down reading and admiring each picture. I love dogs.

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Apolline Adiju says March 22, 2017

Aww, these pictures are so adorable! As for Lent this year I am cutting on my spending and focusing on things that matter the most to me.

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