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Lent Revisited




Forgive the satirical cartoon – I kind of liked it.

As tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, it seems that a Monk site ought to have a post about Lent.  Do we observe it or not?  If so, in what way?

Like all ascetic practices, fasting, a traditional part of celebrating (yes, celebrating) the days leading up to Easter, is intended to help us detach from earthly concerns and desires in order to place greater attention on heavenly ones.  There are many Lenten devotionals out there to assist in this.

But again like all ascetic practices, it is all to easy to allow an external discipline to become law-based and religious, rather than a free act of love and desire.  Fasting in order to earn favour is totally missing the boat.

So am I practicing Lent?

Renouncing excess is an ongoing theme in my life.  I want to live a fasted lifestyle that leaves lots of room for spending dedicated time with God.

As far as eating goes, I find Lent a convenient time to check up on excesses that have crept into my eating patterns. It was a convenient time to fast for monks of old as well, as chickens and cows naturally tended will stop laying and giving milk at this time of year.  Instead, eating a lot of watercress and other early Spring greens, though bitter, was the ideal tonic to ‘clean the blood’ after a sedentary winter.

Whether I eat or drink or whatever I do, I want to do it intentionally, in such a way as brings glory to God. So for Lent, I am reducing my low sugar intake even further.  I will continue to use small amounts of maple syrup and coconut sugar, but the chocolate Ovaltine and accepting offered treats, by the grace of God,will stop.  But more than what I eat, I want to pay attention to how.

It seems silly, but we’re so conditioned to eat mindlessly, quickly.  I want to practice taking a whole, I’m ashamed to say it, ten minutes (or more!) to eat a meal.  That means putting down my fork.  Chewing well and swallowing before taking another bite.  Paying attention to the sensory experience.  Things Generation X ers like me were really never taught.

This is a discipline, but consistently practiced with a worshipping heart, like so many spiritual disciplines, it becomes a DELIGHT instead.

So, what are your thoughts on Lent?

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