I don't keep a scorecard, or have a bucket, but I am collecting Purgatory points.
I lose a few points now and then, too.
If you were raised Catholic like I was, you know that Purgatory is the waiting room for heaven.
I think there's been some philosophical debate over the years about whether or not Purgatory exists.
Obviously, I've not paid much attention.
In my world, quite often, there's no clear black or white answer. "Yes" or "no" is not always correct. A lot of grayness and plenty of "maybe" answers. So, to me, it has always made sense that there's somewhere or some place between right and wrong, good and bad, heaven and hell.
So I collect Purgatory points. Who knows? Someday, maybe my scorecard may help get me a benefit of the doubt.
Points give me hope, and as we all know, hope is a good thing.
Of course, I don't keep a real scorecard. It's all in good fun. But in my world, simple acts of charity and kindness earn Purgatory points. So do everyday events that I hope won't be overlooked someday.
When my kids were in grade school, parents occasionally had to work bingo on Friday nights. When the bingo diehards had to go to the bathroom, they'd ask us volunteers to watch their dozen or so cards temporarily, and "keep their seats warm."
I'm not a bingo guy. And I have a slight attention issue. Mix in a cold beer. So I struggled to keep up with the caller. A few nights, a bingo player returned to her seat and gave me an earful when she realized I had not kept pace.
But not once did I say, "Ma'm, then maybe you should have held it and not gone to the bathroom. ..."
Ithad to be worth a few points.
Ditto for my kids' grade school band concerts when they were taking trumpet lessons. Yikes! Every song sounded like Uncle Frank blowing his nose. Not once did I giggle out loud. I did not jump for joy when they said they wanted to quit trumpet lessons.
A couple of years ago, I accompanied my wife, Susan, to a Michael Buble concert. He was no Springsteen. That had to get me a half-point. Maybe not, though. God knows I've taken her to more than a few ballgames when she'd rather go to a movie.
What about all those Checkerdome and Mississippi River Festival concerts of yesteryear?
That's an example of why I'm still collecting Purgatory points today.
You get the game.
This Lent, once again, I'm trying to add to my collection of Purgatory points by following the tradition of sacrifice. I am part of the 40 percent of Americans observing Lent by making changes in their personal lifestyles, according to Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University.
I'm going for the three-pointer this Lent.
Stop laughing, will you?
I told my wife that I was giving up chocolate candy for Lent. She smiled and asked if it was only chocolate candy...not chocolate cake, not chocolate ice cream, not chocolate milk, not chocolate cookies, not chocolate icing. ...
I realized my sacrifice was as hollow as the ears of that Brach's chocolate bunny that I'll make disappear at the end of March -- and, hopefully, not before.
I also realized I'm a real Fatty McButterpants when it comes to chocolate anything. So I reconsidered and vowed off anything chocolate, although I can't be accountable if I eat a cookie now and then that has a few chocolate chips in it because it looked like an oatmeal raisin when I bit into it. Swear.
So far, so good, as long as I stay away from checkout line at supermarkets. It's a hangover from childhood. Those candy bars talk to me. "Hey McButterpants ... buy me ..."
Of course, I haven't always been successful at my annual Lenten sacrifices.
I was good on the Girl Scout cookies until someone opened the Trefoils (shortbreads). I'm not sure what "Trefoil" means. But I've always assumed it meant "three per bite."
Not swearing was easy until the lawn mower would not start. #@&*! Should have taken it in for winter maintenance.
That's why I need to keep collecting more Purgatory points. So please do me two favors, this season of Lent:
1. Don't lead me into temptation. No M&Ms, Snickers or chocolate cupcakes left unchaperoned along my pathways.
2. Pray for me. For I am sinfully weak when it comes to willpower and chocolate, and I need all the extra Purgatory points I can get.