I’ve never done a weirder thing for Lent before. Even before my current medical-dietary troubles, I’d decided that I didn’t want this Lent to be about food any more than already dictated by canon law. I’ve made everything in my life about food, and past Lents were certainly no exception. I wanted this year to be different. So I thought back to the preparatory penance I’d joked about making during this past Advent.
“What if I stopped talking in Sigma’s voice?”
My husband laughed–not because he didn’t know what I was talking about (as you likely don’t), but because it was a weird idea.
“Why would you give that up? It doesn’t hurt anybody.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s not like there’s anything illicit in channeling your dog’s voice. I don’t know, though. Maybe it would be a good way to school my thoughts.”
I didn’t think of it again until the aforementioned gallbladder attack peaked one week to the day before Ash Wednesday. Giving up Siggie’s voice it is.
What does that mean, even? It means we’re crazy, that’s what it means. Lots of people have pets. Lots of those people talk to their pets. We, however, make them answer back. I’ve done this for all of my pets since my first cat at age 9 (his name was Hobie, and his voice sounded a bit like a fat, lazy C-3PO). This guy…
… is Sigma. Isn’t he handome?
“Of course I am, Mommy, and you’re awesome, too!”
Aw, thanks, Siggie. Siggie sounds and acts a little bit like Emmett from The Lego Movie, only more enthusiastic.
“Tennis ball? Awesome! You’re taking me for a walk? Awesome! You dropped a french fry? AWESOME!!!!”
We have whole conversations, too.
“Doggies, did the girls feed you?”
Siggie replies, “No, they didn’t, Mommy. I’m so hungry! Any food is dog food!”
From the bathroom down the hall, “Don’t listen to him, Mommy! I fed him!”
“No, she didn’t. Don’t be ridiculous.”
Thunderstorm? He’s marching in front of me everywhere I go. “Don’t worry, Mommy. I’ll protect you from the scary thunder.”
“Actually, Siggie, I’m not really afraid of thunderstorms.”
“Of course you are. Don’t be ridiculous.”
It’s a lot of fun having conversations with the dog. It’s certainly not hurting anybody. What kind of penance is giving up conversations with the fictional dog voice for 40 days? I didn’t even know… until today. Today’s first reading is from Jonah, towards the end, where the king of Nineveh declares a fast and penance that extends even to the animals. Why? It’s not like animals need to work out their salvation in fear and trembling. So what’s the point?
“Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth…”
How can covering an animal with sackcloth help humans get closer to God? Because it gives us a break from using God’s creation for so much pleasure. Imagine this fluffy
sock- and pencil-destroying angel covered in burlap:
That’s Rapunzel. Punzie doesn’t talk much, but she is soooo soft and fluffy and cuddly and… soothing. It’s soothing to have these routines with our pets.
Lent isn’t necessarily about giving up sin. Life is supposed to be giving up sin. Lent is about becoming more like Christ in that we accept the cross rather than denying it for the sake of comfort, whether that comfort is malignant or benign.
So that’s my weird Lenten sacrifice. What’s yours? Food? Money? Adding prayer? Adding charitable acts? Don’t toot your horn so much as offer options to anybody reading who might be looking for options of their own.