top of page
  • Mike and Helen

Fast or Feast

Dry January or Veganuary are commonplace matters of conversation these days. Few people are reluctant to tell you about their diet or health regime.  Drinking more water, eating less sugar and fat, making kale or celery your new best friend, walking ten thousand steps a day, etc, etc. All sorts of surprising people are paying vast sums to one of the many gurus on and offline to guide them in how to care for their guts and other crucial parts of their anatomy. Nobody bats an eyelid when tennis legend Novak Djokovic commits himself to eating food that ‘doesn’t take too much energy to digest’, dairy and gluten-free etc. etc. Detox is a familiar concept as are the numbers of adherents willing to tell you how much good it’s done them!

More athletic everyday types are willing to do all this to raise money for good causes. The stringent training exercise and diet that goes with preparation for marathon running or participation in sport is commonplace for people who want to raise money for the charity of their choice – and much admired.

And then there’s meditation or mindfulness – also a growing business, so popular that it’s being taught – again by gurus – to stressed business people and also in some primary schools. Taking time to sit quietly and seek inner silence is increasingly popular and ‘cool’ as an antidote to the strains and stresses of modern work and family life. The centuries old value of seeking for spiritual peace through meditation and yoga has been discovered and repackaged in the 21st century.

So – the  basic elements of the Christian season of Lent – which started this week - are already with us in so many different guises. When the act of ‘giving up something’ is commonplace, what’s so different about ‘giving something up’ so that so that you can reflect on your life. In other contexts it seems to make sense to people to give up something or take up a particular practice as a means to gaining a clear mind. Why not do it while you reflect on your life  in the light of the Big Questions: ‘Who am I? ‘Why am I here? Where am I going? What matters? So we ask ourselves, why is Lent less attractive as an idea?

Probably, we think, because in history the day before Lent was always marked by feasting and ‘carnival’ as people said ‘carne vale’ (goodbye to meat!) and goodbye to enjoying themselves. Even worse, Lent has been associated with a heavy idea of a finger-pointing God who stands waiting to accuse and judge us where we have fallen short – again!

This year, St Valentine’s Day fell on the first day of Lent. We were reminded that Lent is not a time for self-accusation but a time to rediscover Love as the most powerful energy in the universe – the sort of ‘quick-eyed love’ the poet George Herbert wrote about which ‘bade me welcome when my soul drew back’. Far from depriving Love’s guests, Love offers a banquet of its own making, ‘You must sit down and taste my meat,’ Love says.

Paradoxically, as athletes and detoxers of all kinds can witness, giving up, letting go, of whatever kind, can bring its own brand of feasting!

Photo:BBC Food


85 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentário

17 de fev.

Or put another way .........

bottom of page