Posted by: drjamm | February 18, 2010

Virtuous voice for Lent

All day yesterday I wondered how I could best take advantage of this year’s season of Lent to practice and deepen my spirituality. I was all prepared to re-embark on my raw food cleanse; after all, that was a fabulous spiritual practice for me last year at this time. But just before I turned out my bedside lamp to go to sleep last night, that not-so-quiet voice in my head said, “you should give up swearing, starting tomorrow, Ash Wednesday.” “Holy sh-t,” I said back to myself, “how can I possibly make it through the whole season of Lent (I don’t even want to think about how many days it is) without the almost necessary venting of my frustrations through the generous use of creative expletives?”

Observing the jolt of fear that ran through my body at the thought of expunging the grunge from my vocabulary, I knew I had to take up the challenge. O-M-G! (that’s not swearing is it?)  There are two good reasons to proceed with sanitizing my future sentences: the rest of my family finds that my swearing disturbs the collective peace; and I wonder if having a gentler mouth would create a more gentle inner life for myself. There’s just one BIG problem with heeding the call to quit cussing: realistically, as a hereditary Irish Catholic (whose ancestors were known for colourful language), now Unitarian/Wiccan/Sufi/Lover-of-the-Earth who swears like … well, swears A LOT — how am I going to pull off this Great Mother of a clean-up job on my verbal outbursts?

Just so you don’t think I am a total barbarian with a “potty” mouth, I want to assure you that I have strong ethical principles when it comes to swearing, I: (1) never ever swear at or curse a person. (2) never use the F-word as a noun, adjective, adverb, and dangling participle in the same sentence. (3) never use the same swear word twice in the same hour (it shows a limited imagination) — unless I do something like drop the cast iron frying pan on my toe, in which case, I let ‘er rip.

Since Lent is not typically observed in the UU faith (except perhaps by Christian UUs and curious, spiritual adventurers), and my daughter was unfamiliar with the concept, she asked me today, “What is Ash Wednesday?”

“It’s the first day of Lent where you choose something to challenge your ordinary habits and make yourself more conscious of your spiritual journey,” I explained. I told her that I was going to give up swearing for Lent this year. “Oh no,” she said rolling her eyes, “you won’t even make it two days with that one!”

You see? Two days. I’m f….fortunate to have this verbal challenge, even though I think making it two days will be a huge stretch for me. I am going to need lots of help with this new virtuous voice practice. Please send me all your good wishes and, more importantly, your secret tricks for avoiding those delicious, cathartic, and delightfully offensive “bad” words. Now the Lenten clock has started, and, like it or not, my new spiritual challenge has begun. I hope to find new inner — and outer– resources to help me develop truly Divine diction.

May you, too, find the words you need to express yourself as you wish. Blessed Be.

*******       bright heart singing                          credits and links             *******

Photo credit: Winter Olympics 2010 street scenes, Downtown Vancouver. Photos by jamm and Olympic flame photo by luna at

bright heart singing, copyright 2010 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)


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