Lent: 40 Days To Cross

Posted: 14 February 2016 in On the Pilgrim's Road
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40I’m giving up alcohol.  No – the doctors have not told me too.  I’ve not been done for drink-driving.  The liver is fine thanks,   I’m dinking well under the recommended limit.  I’m giving it up for Lent.  That 40+ day run up to Good Friday and Easter.  That traditional time when Christian people either give up something, or do something extra. Or both.  To enter into this period of drama more personally.  Now there are 40 days to go to Cross.

There are several layers to Lent.

Firstly, the chance to identify with the murder of God.  God comes to Earth to show himself in a more accessible form. Earthlings are largely deeply disturbed by what they see, and he is killed.  Judicial murder, on a cross.  Taking part in Lent helps us identify with the build up to the drama, the final conflict, the death. (And the Resurrection, but it is too easy to fast forward to the chocolate bunnies and forget what happened in between.)

Secondly.  Just giving stuff up.  Stopping buying.  Just for a while.  Things that grip us.  Breaking habits that sweetly hold us tight.  It need not be alcohol of course, it could be anything.  But alcohol is not just a drink (cuppa tea instead?), it is a chemical mind alternator.  “Hard day at work, I could do with a drink”, “let’s get the drinks going to get the party going”, etc.  At a work related conference I met an old friend, who was really really worse for wear with liquor.  I felt sad, seriously.  There and then, I thought I’ll give this stuff a rest for Lent.  A kind of statement to self – this does not grip me.  That crate of wine in the garage – well it will still be there after Easter.  The Grenache, Carignan, Durif based wines, will all be as aromatic and luscious then as now, and will taste even better for the rest.

Thirdly.  Just giving up consuming things is a counter cultural statement.  Retail Therapy is not therapy whatsoever, but Retail Addiction.  It is locking us into a cycle of consumption, replacement and obsolescence.  Giving something up is a statement to self, and to others that there are plenty of things we like, but do not need.  However nice, tasty, sweet smelling, luxurious, we are not gripped by it.  We can choose to stop, and we’ll restart when we have decided to at some point in the future, not by some impulse.

Forty days to go.  The Greatest Show On Earth is beginning to unfold.  We press on to that strangely, but correctly, named day “Good Friday”.  It is not too late to join in.


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