As a girl and indeed as a young woman Ash Wednesday was a day of denial
In the Catholic tradition it's a day of fasting and abstinence - meaning that you eat less, and you abstain from eating meat.
In my home as I grew up this meant that we had the egg without the bacon for breakfast; and we had fish for dinner and no pudding. We would also all go as a family to church, to receive the ashes and hear the words intoned by the priest:
Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return; repent and believe the gospel
As I reached my teens and entered the 'rebellious' teenager stage I decided my mother knew nothing (!) and that I should really fast, so on Ash Wednesday I'd refuse to eat at all until tea time.... that didn't last terribly long, but later in my young adult years I began reflecting on the what, how and especially the why of self denial.
Lent is a preiod of 40 days; and of course many who look at the span of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday will soon work out that it adds up to 46 days -
as a reward for your good adherence through the week you are allowed a little relaxation on each Sunday - which should never be treated as a fast day - because Sunday is the day we remember the resurrection. Denial is inappropriate when we remember something so truly wonderous and celebratory!
So this year I, and it seems a few of my friends and peers in Facebook world are giving up wine.
I do not know yet if this is going to be hard or very hard; I do enjoy wine, and I do drink it often. I must remember giving wine up, but substituting a G&T or a glass of beer instead is not denial!
For me taking time, when I really feel that a glass of wine is required, to reflect and to consider what it is that Lent is preparing me for.
It is a season of preparation; a journey from the wandering teaching and communicating season to the culmination:
Jesus set his heart and his feet on the road to Jerusalem.
To his final mission
To the finale
To his earthly destiny
Lent is not meant to be easy
it is meant to be a testing time
Lent is not for the faint hearted
It is for us to discover just how strong our hearts really are
Lent is not just about denial
it is about acceptance as well
in Lent I'll give up wine and I'll miss it
but in that missing I'll take up another - to open up my mind to new things and accept this short time of denial and I'll raise my empty glass to those who join me
we do it
In His Love
when we are tempted remember:
"Scripture says, 'humanity cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks'" (Matt 4:4)