One of the best friends I've ever had in this life was Ann Ball. At the Catholic high school I graduated from, she was my English teacher during my senior year.
Ann was a little older than I, but a large margin wiser. She smoked like a Texas City refinery and let us crash on her sofas when we were too drunk to go home. She was one of the most dedicated religious people I've ever known, as well as a writer whose books are still on shelves at Christian bookstores everywhere.
Although she was immensely influential on me, I didn't absorb every lesson of Ball's. She was uncommonly kind, a trait I'll probably never have or even understand. She was no holy roller, either. She was faithful, but she made her devotion seem so damn cool.
One lesson that stuck regarded the Christian practice of Lent, the six-week period preceding Easter Sunday that begins today. During this time, Christians frequently practice self-denial and wallow in repentant prayer; it's basically the time of year when Christianity goes emo.More »