Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not so fast – Lenten fasting is serious business

Want to know what I gave up for Lent? Read on....

Lenten fasting is not what it used to be. Years ago, I could get away with giving up chocolate or maybe French fries.

Not this time.

Now I do not have the luxury of abstaining from a favorite sweet or snack to observe Lent.

No longer will you hear me say, "I’m giving up ice cream for Lent."

I have replaced such deprivations with the more painful practice of being patient.

Yes, I have given up being impatient for Lent and it has been no easy task. Now, little more than one week into it, and I am about to turn blue.

It is not that I am an extremely impatient person. In fact, I may appear to be the most patient person you have ever met.

However, get me alone in my routine and I turn perilously impatient with myself and with those who are closest to me.

It is a good thing that Lent is a period of prayer and contemplation observed in many Christian denominations, because I am going to need a lot of prayer and a heap of contemplation now through Easter Sunday in order to live up to my Lenten promise.

Lenten fasting is not what it used to be. This other way of observing Lent is an entirely new journey for me.

It makes me yearn for the young innocent days of abstaining from something easy. Take my sunflower seeds and chewing gum, please.

These last eight days since the start of the Lenten season, I have been practicing patience by biting my tongue and counting to 10.

During this time, I have wondered if this is the type of "fasting" that I should have been doing all along.

The term Lent in Old English is Lencten, meaning spring. The Church teaches us that Lent is supposed to be a time of rebirth and renewal.

As Christians, we are called to go beyond ourselves by removing "me, myself and I" from our center of focus.

During these 40 days and 40 nights, we are invited to commit acts of self-sacrifice.

Visit shut-ins or residents in nursing home. Organize a food drive for the local pantry. Give money we would have spent on ice cream, French fries and sunflower seeds to the needy or missions.

We say we do not have time. During Lent, we are to make time.

During Lent, we are challenged to renew our spirits. We are asked to summon our demons and say be gone, good riddance.

In these 40 days and 40 nights, we are asked to compass our God-given purpose. We are summoned to be better people, transformed, if only a little.

Lenten fasting is not what it used to be, at least for me it isn’t.

2009©Copyright Paula Damon

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