Lent 1

So what are you doing for Lent?  Giving something up or giving something to a cause close to your heart? I had never really bothered with the whole giving-stuff-up-for-Lent thing.  Then, a few years ago, our children (being much younger and wiser!) announced they would give up chocolate for Lent.  “Ha!” I thought, “We’ll see how long that lasts!”.  To motivate them, and generally join in the fun, I offered to give up alcohol for as long as they abstained from chocolate.  I secretly reckoned that their resolve would last a few days before they would cave in and I’d be able to have a beer at the weekend.  No such luck!  Bless them – they did it and went without chocolate right until Easter. I found the whole process surprisingly valuable and thought provoking.  I’m by no means a heavy drinker – a glass of red with a nice pasta dish and a beer (or maybe two) on a Friday night.  But the moment you resolve not to do something it’s funny how large it looms in your mind.  There were so many situations in which I found I not only looked forward to but eagerly expected an alcoholic drink.  It seemed decidedly odd to be drinking orange and lemonade (instead of a foaming pint of Cumbrian ale) at a pub whilst on holiday in The Lakes.  Tomato juice felt like a very poor substitute for G&T or a glass of bubbly at social occasions! It certainly made me think – more than I thought it would – about habits, my relationship to alcohol, control and the nature of self discipline.  Like I said – a valuable exercise. Subsequent years saw me give up chocolate or coffee for the season.  Coffee proved exceptionally difficult.  Again, as with alcohol, I don’t drink a huge amount but I really (and I mean REALLY) enjoy a good coffee.  I became noticeably ill-at-ease and fidgety about 11 o’clock each morning! Over the last few years I’ve noticed a greater emphasis on DOING things for Lent – not just denying ourselves the odd luxury.  Volunteering. Charitable giving, Random acts of kindness.  There are all sorts of resources out there. So, this year, I’ve set myself my own creative Lent challenge.  More of which later… What are you doing for Lent?