Our Lady of the Grapes and Lent

Lent is over. This was a particularly mindful one.

I gave up alcohol, though really it was wine specifically. I chose this because of many reasons. The main reason is because I am a borderline teetotaler with a tendency to think many of my friends self medicate with wine and I needed to explore my own drinking habits a bit more in order to feel like I understood their place. Another reason is that so many of the folks I know that have tried to give this one up for lent, have failed. I was curious as to what all that meant.

I began by making an appeal to Our Lady of the Grapes.  I have had regular and on-going conversations with Our Lady for most of my life. At the ripe old and wizened years if 7, when I had an occasion to desire a serious consideration for entering the Church, I prayed to her for guidance, asking for stigmata as a symbol that I should join, just like her son. She told me no.

Anyway, I went to her and asked if this plan of mine was coming from the right place. After all it was, in part, based on my own judgement of friends and strangers. I am in the line that judging others is not a bad thing… not when it is used for self reflection, for generating positive behaviour changes. For example, in social situations where you find a group of loud raucous people, it is a chance to point out that while they may all be having a great time, It is hard to hear around their noise, they are being rude to speakers (if applicable), that that behaviour is best for smaller gatherings, and that being polite to everyone time is in the best interest of everyone. I think that this causes havoc when people are either of the belief that all judgement is bad or that we humans intensely dislike being called out on our behavior. Either way, we are all human and we will all continue to judge and do things that cause us to be judged.  The key, for me at least, is to not only accept that I will be judged and will often be found lacking. I am at peace with that, though I wish it were more often fairly done.

So, here I was about to embark on a Lenten ritual where I would pay attention to my own drinking habits, but to those I know as well.

So, the key moment is that I accidentally only drank once, just past the middle of the experience (time wise).  It was at a social gathering and it was just out of habit. I really did not think about it until my friend who knew what I gave up for Lent looked at me across the table and yelled “Blair, what about Lent?”.

She told me that she felt terrible, that she saw my face fall when I realized what had happened and was crushed for outing me so publicly. I have to admit that I was pretty blown away by how easy it was for me to slip and order a glass. But, it is precisely in times like this that we are provided with a moment to reflect on something a bit differently. So, I spent that night talking to Our Lady. I realized that I had fared far worse when it came to ordering soft drinks the year I gave those up, and that one drink was not bad.  I remained pretty mindful for the rest of the experience. I realized two things though:

  • A LOT of people in my circles do indeed drink and are very uncomfortable when someone around them doesn’t partake.
  • I really have a social relationship to alcohol. 

As for my reflections on others who drink and who were partly in mind when I chose this as my Lenten experience… a few of them are overly social and are weak in the face of peer pressure and a few are most likely alcoholics.

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