So we’re already on the second day of Lent! My cousin ruined his alcohol fast a mere 19 hours after it started, but I’m still going strong!
For those of you who have no idea what Lent actually is, here’s a little background history. Lent takes place from Ash Wednesday (the day after Pancake Day) to the day before Easter Friday, which is 40 days. Traditionally, people fast, or give up luxuries as a form of penitence and repentance before celebrating Easter. These days though, I think it is more widely viewed as a challenge and a way to improve your general lifestyle. But for me as a Christian, it’s a pretty important time of year.
Usually, I like to go pretty manic when it comes to Lent. I guess I’m just the sort of person who likes a challenge. A couple of years ago, I only drank water for the whole six weeks, which I must say was insanely hard work. This year however, I’ve set the bar a little lower.
The thing I’m trying to give up this year is time. Sounds pretty easy right? Apparently not. Now I can’t really say that I have much of a busy life. Having been forced to drop out of college earlier this year due to illness, I spend most of my time sitting around the house and getting under my mother’s feet. I work one day a week at the moment but even on those days there are plenty of hours where I basically just procrastinate doing anything useful.
A lady in my church suggested that for the 40 days of Lent, we take some time out of our day to day routine and just sit and think for five minutes. No radio, no television, no other people, just you and your thoughts. She then handed out candles to everyone, suggesting that we light them and use them to help us relax and not get distracted.
To be honest, at the time, I was secretly thinking ‘there is no way I’ll ever do that’. Firstly, I happen to be terrified of lighting matches after accidentally setting my own hair on fire once. But I also thought that I would have nothing to think of and that after, a few minutes, I would just get bored and give up .
But yesterday, after a little persuading from my father I did shut myself in my room with some matches and the candle. After a few minutes I even built up the courage to light the candle, but when I actually sat down and took the time to think I found that I actually had quite a few things running through my head, and that I was actually quite enjoying myself.
Being a Christian, I took most of the time to have a little chat with God. I’ve always been pretty rubbish at things like praying. I usually feel pretty silly and get distracted within a few seconds. But I found that having the candle to look at kept my mind from wondering off on some unrelated tangent.
Doing it again today, made me realise a lot more that this was something that could be very useful in my life. At this point in my life a lot of things seem to be very confusing and not going in the way I had planned. I never thought I would end up having a year off from school and being stuck at home, unable to do all the things I wanted to do this year. But after just ten minutes of sitting and thinking, I’ve already decided to do something I’ve been putting off for a while, but really do need to do, and I’m really thankful for that.
So if you haven’t done anything for Lent, or even if you have, I would really recommend doing something like this. You don’t have to pray or even light a candle, you could just think. Make a list of things you’d like to do; think of all the things you’re thankful for; just take some time to reflect on the things in your life, because sometimes, when our lives seem to be racing by, we can often forget what’s important and what’s not.