Easter is on the horizon and I have been really struggling with the Lenten season this year. The world at the moment is overwhelming. Geo-politically, societally and environmentally there are so many things to concern us and to pray about and take action on. An awareness of where God and where we all individually fit into what is going on is really important and the period of Lent before celebrating the victory of Easter is really helpful in putting things into perspective and centring our priorities.
Yet I am really finding it hard going. The last two years I have used an app to focus my attention on this important time of self-denial and reflection, and it has been a powerful and stretching time. This year I am struggling to even open the app, let alone read the daily entries.
I have given up social media for Lent for the last couple of years but I didn’t want to isolate myself from social media this year as I would be overseas for two weeks and I needed to keep in contact with people. And also since doing that last time, I have a much less intense relationship with social media so depriving myself of it isn’t really a big issue. So no social media fast this year.
Considered briefly (very very briefly) to abstain from wine or potato chips – knew that wasn’t going to work!
I then decided I would give up red meat instead, which I thought would be an achievable but sacrificial challenge. Was surprisingly easy while I was in Santa Cruz as it is a seaside town. However once I was home and cooking for people who haven’t made the same decision it has become a lot harder. So I am instead trying to eat as little of it as possible. It has definitely had the effect of really making me think about what I eat and whether I am happy with eating animals. This is definitely an evolving conversation I am having with myself. I don’t think I would ever become vegan but I can see myself changing in this area. However not a successful Lent fast really.
So not doing so well so far!
While thinking about making this post today, I stumbled across a video blog from two Anglican bishops who described Lent is a time for disrupting our life to such an extent that we encounter God and other people differently – wow! Disruption may not be achieved by taking something away but also by adding things, or changing an attitude or habit. (For the whole video chat, click here ,it’s only about five minutes).
And I realised as I was listening that I have been engaged in this disruption process. God has been challenging me on many things and my response to them over the last little while (including my changing attitude to red meat).
In line with this are the words below – from Pope Francis – a much more disruptive and bigger challenge to my life than not posting on Instagram. Have I achieved all of these things? Of course not! But it is a lovely and timely reminder of how to live in this crazy world, not just during Lent but our entire lives.
Do you want to fast this Lent?
Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
Fast from worries and trust in God.
Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.