I found myself thinking about lent this morning.
I say this today, because if I wait until Lent Eve* to share this I'll have long forgotten these thoughts.
My mind jumped into thoughts about lent because of some reading I was involved in, that also happened this morning. I'll share more on the reading in a moment. First...
I've heard of a lot of nontraditional fasts for lent. However, these "nontraditional" fasts are becoming so commonplace they are on the verge of becoming the new traditional. Who doesn't know someone who gave up "television" for lent? My sister gave up sugar one year. That would be a doozy. I don't know if I could do it.
I think there is a lot of merit in giving things up for a period of time so that one can become more focused on God. And for many people, food isn't the thing they most need to step away from.
I remember a conversation with a guy, years back, who gave up bacon.
What makes it better is that there was a massive bacon binge on either side of those 40 days. And I mean multiple pigs were involved in the making of this binge.
I'm sure that's exactly what the first "Lenters" had in mind when they began the tradition.
They were giving up all food, so that one day a guy would give up bacon, after eating a three month supply in the 24 hours prior to the "fast," and another three months supply in the hour following.
Way to show us how it's done.
While there are lots of absurd fasts. There are some nontraditional fasts that need consideration.
I read today** about fasting from pride. Or more specifically, fasting from ways we defend our pride. The author uses the example of going without defending yourself whenever you are criticized.
I don't know what would be harder, 40 days without sugar, or 40 days without thinking of a comeback, defense or excuse?
The book also speaks of doing secret acts of service as a way of deflating pride because one receives no credit for them. That still seems easy by comparison because there is a more tangible, and immediate, reward: what many call a warm and fuzzy feeling. I feel good when I do something nice in secret so it's not a hardship.
But standing there and taking criticism?
I don't know.
And that might very well be the thing I need to go 40 days without.
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* I know that "Lent Eve" isn't an official term. However, I propose that it is perhaps a better, more encompassing, term for the day of preparations for lent than "Fat Tuesday."
** I've been reading Brian McLaren's "Finding Our Way Again: the return of the ancient practices" Nashville: Tomas Nelson, 2008