Lent – to fast or not to fast?

Motto for Lent2011 - it was me - owning up

Motto for Lent 2011 - it was me - owning up: 7 weeks without making excuses

Lent – which incidentally doesn’t come from the French word lent for slow, but from the old German/Dutch word for spring: Lenz (though some people seem to think the French were somehow involved here…) is traditionally a time of fasting in the Christian calender – 40 days without. And, essentially for me it’s not only giving something up – it’s also about becoming a better person or at least trying to.

Over the years I have given up many things during lent, although nothing ever touched G’s 40 days fasting. My first fasting lent  is known in my memory as “Nutella lent” – and just for anyone who didn’t know me at that time, I did eat a lot of it (and I mean a lot).

The German Protestant church has issued their 7 weeks without manifesto: “7 weeks without – it was me!” (Sieben Wochen ohne – ich wars!) owning up to our own mistakes and being generous about others’ mistakes. The Catholic Church still has to update their website. They are still on 2010 and, consequently, have no motto to follow this time…

So, now the search begins: what am I going to give up for lent? And what will it be good for?
Sweets? – hmm technically I don’t eat sweets and even if I wanted to eat lots of the type I can have, the result would be a long session in the bathroom. Not good.
Meat – not that I have a lot of it – we happily live 4 days on one chicken – but food in general is not a good idea as I do have a restricted diet anyway which would most probably make my condition worse.
Alcohol? – a no go: I don’t drink as it doesn’t work out with my medication.
Cigarettes? never smoked.
Car? Don’t own one.
Internet? I need it for work – ok, I could cut out reading blogs etc., but that would also effectively mean giving up on our blog and I quite like writing posts.
knitting? You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s either knit – in the few hours in the week that I can actually spare from research and typing essays/lab reports etc. – or poke someone with the knitting needle. So no, not an option.

I kept wandering through things in my mind, what could I give up that would make sense – also in the light of having a chronic illness and chronic pain. I need to paint the picture here: I have to give up most things in life even ones that people generally assume to be ‘normal’. Just a quick wander in the park or an evening out has to be planned and activities have to prioritised. Discipline ranks high at the moment because I want to be able to not only finish my course, but also have a good grade.

So, would giving up on the small amount of sweets I have really make sense or would it make me a totally grumpy person as I feel that I cannot even have the smallest things any more that are supposed to make me feel better or more human? I kept dwelling on this until I had the idea. Grumpiness finally triggered the thought – I was going to give up part ignoring my body – something every person with chronic illness I’ve ever met excels in – and which is, indisputably, a bad habit. So for the 7 weeks of lent I will give up ignoring my body. To make this a realistic task, this will mean that for about 20 minutes every day I will have to do nice things that will actually make me feel better. And what will you do? Are you joining me for Lent?


3 thoughts on “Lent – to fast or not to fast?

  1. Jessica says:

    I’ve given up things in the past, but have been thinking about working toward something this year. Like, working toward exercising more or being more thankful or kinder. I guess Lent is supposed to be about sacrifice, but does the sacrifice lead toward improvement? I like to look at the positive and need more of that in my life.

  2. Daisy says:

    I like the German churches idea. Technically I’ve given up buying snacks on the way home from work (as I was getting through one heck of a lot of chocolate!) but I’d like to do something more like that.

  3. nora says:

    I quite like the notion of ‘doing something’ for Lent, rather than giving up something. It could be helping someone one day a week or random acts of kindness to strangers or making sure we listen to our bodies more intently; but being active rather than passive in our actions seems a much better way to mark Lent in modern life.

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