Before you roll your eyes or immediately click away, I want to assure you that this is not going to be a sermon on how to properly prepare for the most important event in the Christian calender. Exclamations like “heresy!” and “burn that witch” are more likely to be made in connection with me than “pious” or “what a good Christian”. But simply based on my upbringing I do consider myself a Christian and this upbringing does, indeed, impact on my values and moral standards. Still, I am neither church-going (only if I can’t help it – like funerals or weddings – or if the church is considered a historic site) nor do I ever read the Book (unless I need it to better understand a medieval text, so purely out of scholarly interest).
Despite my lack of love for the institution and most of the traditions, I do like the idea of lent. Not necessarily the whole prayer, penance and atonement part but the fasting bit. Please, don’t confuse lent fasting with juice fasting! Why observing lent (well, I try each year but don’t always succeed) appeals to me is that it gives me a chance to reflect on my lifestyle and my habits (both negative and positive) and to realise in what an abundance I actually live. Denying myself certain things that I consume – and I don’t just mean eat – makes me see that I have enough even though I am anything but rich (in a monetary sense). It is a great opportunity to break out of bad habits as abundance can cause you pain and worry.
So, I do a combination of things: I reduce stuff that I think I cannot live without, I cut out senseless spending (i.e. anything I don’t need for “modern day” survival), I stay away from some unhealthy habits and foods that I overconsume and I try to be more in the present, grateful and conscientious in my daily actions. Realising how much we have and consume without reflection not only helps me understand how blessed I am and how little others have. It is not that I am not aware of the fact that there is poverty, hunger and exploitation in this world (and I also don’t actually think that the rather marginal restrictions I impose on my life can ever be considered a sacrifice) but I am definitely not aware of the fact how much I actually have. In fact, you will hear me complain about the shortage of money and the fact that I cannot afford this or that most of the time. I am a very whiny person and unable to ever anwer the question “How are you doing” with fine or great. If you lucky you will get a “so-so” from me.
As I’m already trying to downsize my stuff, minimise waste and reduce my consumption (with varying degrees of success but then again I just started and all of these things need time), I decided not to overdo it with my lent resolutions and just do really small, achievable things.
So, here are my lent resolutions
I want to drastically reduce the time I spend on my tablet, especially watching YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly watch inspirational videos on healty and/or alternative living but I don’t do it in moderation. I am obsessed with the lives of others and as we all know our “keeping up with the Joneses” voyeurism is one of the most powerful driving forces behind consumerism. It not only makes us want more, better, newer but it is the perfect distraction from our own lives and it is a great excuse not to improve as we will never be as successful/healthy/happy/smart/tidy as them, am I right? Why try? So, I decided to cut out YouTube Mon-Sat and only allow myself 1,5 hours on Sunday (lent breaking yeah) to get some inspiration.
Speaking of juice fasting, I actually need to reduce my juice consumption as it is next to imposssible to get juice in glass around here. So, goodbye 0,5l of apple juice each day. I will only have my glass of orange juice in the morning.
I want to reduce the amount of dairy in my life (maybe go 75% vegan over time – love cheese and eggs too much to be 100%) as it is not only not really healthy but that the stuff is usually individually packed in plastic (I won’t even talk about the living condition of most of the animals as it is simply too depressing). If I reduce my overall dairy intake, I can reduce my waste and use the extra cash on organic products. I will start with creme, sour creme and creme fraiche as I am not prepared yet to cut down my yoghurt and cheese (baby steps!).
I will not buy any books for 6 weeks. This is going to be so hard. I have enough books that I haven’t read or finished and for everything else, I will use the library.
By the way, I am one of those crazy people who does lent twice a year. Easter lent (Ash Wednesday to Easter) and Martinmas fasting (St. Martin’s Day to Christmas).
This picture is a collage of cards from this website: http://www.someecards.com/ecards/lent/