Tomorrow is the first day of Lent, the period of the year when Christians turn their minds and hearts to the coming Passiontide and Easter season. Traditionally Lent is a time of reflection and penitence, 40 days mirroring the 40 days which Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted. Often it has been a time to give something up as part of a process of refocussing of life on what really matters. But increasingly it has become a time instead to take up something new and positive.
This duality of both consciously fasting and also positively refocussing is expressed in the following, words of Abbot Tryphon of All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Monastery, Vashon Island, Washington, USA, which were sent to me by a member of our congregation:
Fasting is not just about food.
Fast from self-concern and feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement and feast on hope.
Fast from lethargy and feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion and feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken and feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow and feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip and feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm you and feast on prayer that sustains.
Fast from criticism and feast on praise.
Fast from self-pity and feast on joy.
Fast from ill-temper and feast on peace.
Fast from resentment and feast on contentment.
Fast from jealousy and feast on love.
Fast from pride and feast on humility.
Fast from selfishness and feast on service.
From what will you fast this Lent? And on what will you feast?