Now, I always thought that Lent was like advent. It doesn't matter your religious beliefs, it's something that most people in society join in with. However, yesterday (Ash Wednesday) I heard a wide range of opinions, from one person who said that lent was against the scriptures, he didn't give specifics, and I wasn't going to go and look it up! I still have fish on Friday, and I've never entirely understood why we do that, I've never worried about it, I've just got along and had fish for tea on a Friday and a vegetarian lunch. I figured it was good for me anyway. I digress. Someone else wouldn't participate because it was a pagan belief, so are Christmas trees, and I happen to know that she had a big tree up in December, in fact, come to that, so are eggs at Easter... I can guarantee she won't be skipping that paganism either! Finally, someone else told me that on the grounds that I haven't been to church (any church) for some time, I don't need to bother anymore!
Well. I "do" giving up something for lent because I always have. I happen to know that a period of fasting at this time of year wasn't a religious anything, if you go back far enough, it was due to lack of food after the winter months & big Christmas/Yuletide/midwinter feasting before the new growth in the spring. The Pope gave a sermon about it, so I think we can safely say that it is an accepted part of religion (he is supposed to be infallible after-all, apart from that minor word change last week there - if you didn't see it, look it up.) Anyway. Stuff it. It's tradition. I am sticking with it, the same way we have an advent calendar and an indoor tree at Christmas, and if you think I am going to not have a chocolate-fest at Easter, you are very much mistaken.
However, this year I really struggled to find something to give up. I need to be realistic. It is usually about self-deprivation, but if you go to Easter, rather than palm Sunday, then it is 47 days, which, being a little over six weeks, is long enough (so psychologists tell us) for something to become a habit. So, I thought that I would try to do new things, but I still need to give something up.
Fast food is this years deprivation. No McDonalds, no KFC, no Burger King, no Subway... then we decided no kebab houses or pizza places, no chip-shops or takeaways. We can still eat out, (my birthday always falls in lent), but we have to limit that. And if we are on a day trip, we are taking sandwiches. It's going to be tough, but we'll get through.
I'm also not to go to the little local shops for 'top-up' shops. I am a bit of a one for doing that, and always end up overspending. It doesn't seem like much a few quid here, a fiver there... but it adds up. If we forget it in the main weekly shop, we have to do without! I made it through yesterday, but only just. I almost went at lunchtime! But I didn't.
I am taking at least one photograph each day - it should be of something that makes you happy or something that you are grateful for... This is my first photo, from Ash Wednesday. Taken from Weston, looking out at a small outcrop. If you can ignore the industry and chemical factories, you sometimes get a sense of how pretty this area is.
I am also trying to read, write and sew something everyday. I managed 5 chapters (over two books) yesterday. And a little bit of sewing for a group stitch along (where a large group of people all stitch the same pattern). I also wrote a full side of A4, with a pen. It was rubbish and had no plot. But I wrote! I didn't check the word count. But I will count it shortly, and then will keep a NaNo-esque tally of how much I write during Lent.
For my final goal, I was hoping to try to learn something new in Lent, but I didn't manage to start anything yesterday. I may still try this evening and do Easter Monday too... I'll let you know how I get on later in the week!
If you are giving something up (or taking something up) this lent, then good luck! It's not supposed to be easy, and I'll be wishing for Easter so I can have a chippy tea right there with you!