Seeking inspiration for this post, sunshine, snowdrops, daffodils and blue tits inspecting the bird box in my garden all turned my thoughts to Spring and new starts and my spirits soared. Then I remembered Lent with its fasting, suffering and penitence and wham, my mood dropped like a portcullis. “Why do I have this negative attitude towards Lent?” I wondered and set out to investigate.
I discovered that sugary pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”), with its carnival and feasting, symbolise how our ancestors used up rich foods in one glorious blow-out before Lent. Little positive PR for austere Lent to be found there!
Then I read how the Greeks approach things slightly differently. Lent starts two days earlier on the Sunday evening with a service at which people bow to each other asking for forgiveness for their shortcomings in the previous year. In this way everyone starts the next day, called Clean Monday, with a clear conscience and renewed feelings of love from, and towards, those around them. I read elsewhere that the logic for choosing what we take on during Lent is not only to make up for what we regret having done or not done in the past but also to help us grow as people. Lent, if you will, is about character building.
Here was the positive spin I sought. We forgive others their failings and are forgiven in return. We stop beating ourselves up about the past. We choose something for the 40 days of Lent that will be tough yet means something to us so we come out as better people.
Think then of something you have been meaning to do to improve your health and wellbeing, banish your personal critic (what’s done is done, move on) and with a clean slate commit to that something for 40 days. If your mind has gone blank here are some ideas:
Eat fresh foods rather than all the packaged stuff
Vow to leave work at the office
Be kind to yourself (whatever that means to you)
Reduce or eliminate added sugar
Raise your heart rate for 15 minutes daily
Stretch muscles and creaking bones by taking up a class or sport
Reduce nicotine intake
Watch TV or downloads for an hour less a day, talking to friends and family instead
I wish a purposeful, determined Lent to one and all.
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