Earlier this week, I read the evlogia post entitled “why do we fast?” (warning: her blog immediately starts playing music at you. controls are in the top right if you want to pause it). This got me thinking about Lent. Shrove Tuesday is in a couple of weeks’ time, and thereafter Lent (for the Western Church) begins …
I would like to do something for Lent.
I could give up some particular kind of food – so far as I can tell this is the most popular way to observe Lent in England (giving up sweets, chocolate, etc). But to be honest that would be less a sacrifice than a lifestyle choice, and using Lent as an excuse to make a lifestyle change feels wrong.
I could try to give up complaining – I’ve heard of people doing that. But I suspect I would fail swiftly and I don’t like setting myself up for failure (on Tuesday I had to download a reading online, and despite repeated attempts using different links and various browsers it absolutely refused to work … yeah, complaining, it happened. And, frankly, will happen again).
I could take something on. Getting up earlier to read the Bible? maybe. Or maybe something to do with prayer.
But then … there is something in actual fasting that is not in social media fasts or TV fasts or taking something on for Lent. I used to be part of a group at Church that tried to fast every Monday, until Monday evening (so missing 2 meals). I wasn’t very good at it. I spent too much time thinking about what I was going to eat when I did eat, and deciding that it was fine to have a “snack” at 5pm. In the end I stopped because I felt that the physical discipline, without other input (and there wasn’t much input/support as the only contact was via one weekly email), was potentially nudging me towards bad habits instead of good ones. (I’ve read up on eating disorders and the associated thought patterns / habits of mind …)
Still. There is something in actual fasting. Katherine (who writes at evlogia) writes
“We fast because we need to remember that we need God.”
That sentiment calls to me.
Fasting reminds us that we are not self-sufficient.
“God doesn’t need us to fast. We do.”
So. I’m kicking around this idea – I haven’t totally committed to it yet. But I think I’m going to give up lunch for Lent. For practical reasons, I don’t think I can fast in the Orthodox sort of way – which doesn’t involve not eating, but involves eating plainer food and somewhat less of it. I also don’t want to make this awkward or worrying for other people, so I think the best thing is to keep eating evening meals as usual. But lunch … I could give up lunch. And doing so would save a small amount of money, which would allow me to give that money.
I think this will work. 2 meals a day for 6 days a week will be fine, right?
(Sundays are not part of the 40 days of Lent as calculated in the Western Church.)