I’ve been tagged by the lovely Rebecca at The Beesley Buzz blog to write about Lent and what it means to me by answering 10 questions in a blog post. As I’ve not written about Lent before I thought I’d join in, especially as this year we’re doing something a little different as a family that I’m quite excited about. There’s 10 questions so feel free to read as many or as few as you like.
1.What does Lent mean to you?
As a person brought up a Catholic I have to confess (forgive the pun :-)) that I have struggled to look forward to this season, despite my parents being on the progressive end of the Catholic spectrum. Memories of abstaining from chocolate, ash on my forehead and regular confession as a child are hard to remember with fondness, even for someone who knows the theory of the benefits of seasonal fasting. But then who does enjoy giving up things we’re a bit addicted to? In my later adult years, I have often used the season of Lent to do a bit of spiritual spring cleaning and I’ve found various Lent reflection books helpful. I have sometimes attempted to give something up but as my husband didn’t grow up with the Lenten tradition, it’s not been that easy: resisting that bar of chocolate or glass of wine is that much harder when those around you don’t! I have to admit I find it a bit sad the way the evangelical churches don’t observe Lent. I understand their thinking, to a certain extent, but I do believe observing seasons are helpful and doing things collectively is powerful. Baby and bath water come to mind.
2. How are you celebrating Lent this year?
Three ways: one I’m deciding to eat and drink more simply rather than cut out a specific food/drink item for 6.5 weeks which I often find too unrealistic and I become a bit fixated on the ‘must not eat’ thing. My motivation is because I’m realising how, especially in winter, I can too easily turn to food or drink for comfort. That in itself isn’t bad, but if it stops me from finding comfort in God in whatever it is I’m struggling with, its not such a great idea.
I’ve encouraged the kids to give up something too, mainly as a healthy discipline to have a bit of self control, whilst being careful not to make it a heavy “Thou must not enjoy oneself in Lent” kind of thing. They seem pretty happy to do it which is a result! So they’re giving up chocolate but with Sundays off and my daughter is giving up Instagram during the week. I did have to remind my 10 year old sweet-mad son yesterday that it didn’t meaning he can stuff his face with chocolate the whole day – ha!
Two, I’m being intentional about carving out time to read, reflect and pray rather than just as and when I can – which basically doesn’t work! In the past I’ve used Lent study guides, but this year I’ll be reading and working through Shaun Lambert’s Putting On The Wakeful One. Shaun, a Baptist minister in Stanmore, is one of the UK’s leading Christian thinkers and practitioners of Christian mindfulness. I was fortunate enough to go on one of his retreats at Worth Abbey a couple of years ago and have been following him online every since. This is his latest book which I’m awaiting to land on my doorstep any day.
The third way is the really exciting inspiring one: 40 Acts. The idea is to ‘do Lent generously‘ by focussing on how we can be generous with our time, money, words over Lent. The website has loads of resources for individuals, families or groups. I’ve suggested it to my family in the past but now the kids are older they are embracing it. In fact, my daughter saw the website on my screen last week and said “Yay! 40 Acts again!” How cool is that? She’s a natural giver that girl, it’s her love language, so she’s really up for doing random acts of kindness, especially the fun ones (egDay 28: stick spare change onto a parking meter for someone who’s run out of change” or “Write something lovely in chalk on someone’s doorstep without them seeing you”). So we’ve got our Family Wall Chart up and we’re up for it! Let’s see how we get on….ha!
Here’s a video clip they put together for 2015 (they have one for this year but we like this one better):
Today, I decided I’d like to do my 40Acts bit for my fabulous Pilates teacher. All I did was buy her a humble bunch of Narcissi (pictured above). You wouldn’t believe how touched she was by it.
3. What things have you given up for Lent in the past? Did you succeed or fail?
I’ve covered this one already, so next…..
4. Have you ever taken part in an Easter bonnet competition?
Nice short answer for this: No. Next…
5. What is your favourite pancake topping?
Blueberries with lemon and soft brown sugar. Just the best.
6. What activities do you take part in Holy Week?
We’re very fortunate to live in a town that has fantastic churches that support one another from all denominations. As our church doesn’t have a service on Good Friday we go to one held at a vibrant evangelical Anglican church St Paul’s that is always dynamic, reflective, creative and also very family friendly. Quite a feat to accomplish, but they do! They welcome those from other churches or none, and its always a wonderful combination of reverential yet not overly heavy. If I can, I also sometimes to go my mum’s Catholic church on Maundy Thursday for their Last Supper service which is contemplative and moving – my mum’s church is a vibrant quietly spirit-filled Catholic church. So, its quite an interdenominational mix!
7. How do you celebrate Easter Day?
Pretty standard stuff: we go to our church, Forest Town, which is usually a lot of fun, then off to Granny’s for Easter lunch, easter egg hunting in her garden or indoors depending on the weather.
8. What is your favourite Easter food?
Easter ring which is a dried fruit bread cake with an almond filling and topped off with glazing. Paul Hollywood has a delicious recipe which is one up on the one my mum used to make – but then that is Paul Hollywood all over (except when it comes to selling his soul to Channel Four….;-) )
9. What would you encourage others to think about during Easter time?
Pretty simple: commemorate then celebrate! Easter Sunday is a mind-blowing event if you believe in it. It’s a wonderful way to bring out the joy of the Christian message. And if you’re not a believer, well, to celebrate Spring and to consider the new life message of the gospel: too often people think Christianity is a Good Friday kind of faith, when actually its all about the break-through, freedom and joy of Easter Sunday.
Oh and eat chocolate, of course…..
10. Who else would you like to nominate in the Easter Tag?
If I’m not too late it has to be Suzanne from Inside, Outside and Beyond (formerly blogging at 3childrenandit.com) and Claire from Clarina’s Contemplations. These two lovely ladies are my go-to parent bloggers who are also Christian, (as well as Rebecca of course). Their blogs have that wonderful combination of being beautiful, well written and fully of honesty yet also tenderness. Check them out!
I’ll be back the week after Easter to let you know how we go on with the 40 Acts thing….. x