I am coming upon my second Lent as a Christian.
One year ago, I blended the concepts of a fast (deprivation for humility), and praxis (reflection and prayer every morning coupled with applying my reflected themes that day). This was a great model and I would highly recommend it. In 2010, my fast was an “as close to 100% local diet as possible” concept, which was a step up from my normal diet. What it also did, and was one of my ultimate goals, was created good habits for me to continue my quest to be a more sustainable eater. I learned how to make a lot of things myself–among them butter, yogurt, biscuits, and bread.
As I come into the season of Christian deprivation for 2011, I would like to follow the same model.
My view on fasts during Lent is that as long as they induce feelings of humility and put things into perspective for you, they are successful. Some are resistant to any Lenten fast that provides personal benefit. I disagree. If the fast fulfills its ultimate purpose and makes you a better person/happier/healthier in the process, I wouldn’t point fingers. I put this into practice myself. It’s an extra bonus to choose something that can help you build habits to a better lifestyle. This is something I consciously did last year with great results.
Here are my plans which will start this Ash Wednesday of 2011:
1. The Fast – Grain, wheat, and refined sugar-free for humility and conscious-eating with the goal of reducing my grain consumption (and prove once and for all if I am grain intolerant as I suspect as a secondary peripheral goal). One meal a day with the goal of reducing my impact through caloric consumption and ultimately reducing my compulsive eating behavior I have struggled with for so long.
2. Praxis – At least an hour of reflection every morning. This can consist of reading the bible, poetry, writing, or just watching the sun rise and thinking about who I am, who I want to be, and where I want to go. I would highly recommend something like this for anyone–it is more than worth making time for.
Last year the prayer time in the morning made me a better person. It sounds silly but it’s true. I actually found myself looking forward to it every day. It was pretty lovely. I also made the rule that it was going to happen no matter what (no matter when I went to bed). This was difficult when I was a student but I found since it was my priority I tended to “make it work”. This seems to be how it is for anything that you make a priority for, doesn’t it? Figure out what’s important to you and make it work. It was in those prayer times that I realized all the more that God and living a good life was my number one priority and, really, the only thing that matters. How funny is that?
I would love to hear from anyone what sorts of practices they participate in during the Lenten season. Feel free to share if you exist out there.