From the vicarage
Easter is late this year, and as I write most of Lent stretches ahead of us. So perhaps it was contemplating the thought of no cake for the next few weeks that drew my eye to a newspaper article by the singer Charlotte Church.
In her case, it was not cake but alcohol that she had been abstaining from. Feeling the benefits of ‘Dry January’ had led her to embrace a dry February as well, resisting pressure from others to drink and feeling so much better for it.
Apparently, the current health and fitness cult has pinched some features of Lent – the “giving up” bit when it comes to chocolate, cream cakes and the rest – but mostly leaves the prayer, Bible reading and other bits to one side. But as liberating as the ideas of wellness and wholeness might seem, as with anything else the joy drains away all too easily when reduced to a list of do’s and don’ts: Thou shalt drink green tea and go to the gym; thou shalt not loaf in front of the TV eating pizza...
No commandment demands that Thou shalt give up cake for Lent – it’s my choice. Just as Charlotte Church finds that her new-found regime makes it easier for her to reach out to people and connect with them, so doing Lent – with all the bits – does something similar for me. It shifts my attention away from my own selfish wants – even for little things like cake – and keeps the joy by helping me to reach out to God and other people and connect with them.
So, bless you if you’re doing Lent - especially if you’re doing it with all the bits. And a very Happy Easter to you, when the time comes.