Today is Shrove Tuesday, a special day in the calendar of the Christian Church. It is the day before the beginning of Lent and a day to put aside all the luxuries and wanton desires of the world in preparation for 40 days of fasting and meditation. It has become a day for debauchery and a day to use up all the fat saved over the winter by making pancakes and other treats.
The religious part of the celebration may seem strange to those who don’t practice it but most religions incorporate a time similar to this. Even those who are not religious may find some good sense in the practice.
This is the time of year things begin to stir, in the Northern Hemisphere at least. I saw snowdrops blooming this morning. The potatoes under the sink begin to sprout, the fat you were saving turns rancid, your body even begins to make some changes. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it but there is apparently good evidence this is the best time of the year to fast. It is a time for cleaning out the junk in your mind, your body and your house. Time for Spring Cleaning of everything.
In the Jewish tradition a similar time is used to clean house in a big way. There isn’t to be one crumb left before Passover begins. Also good reason for that. It is the time of year that molds begin to grow and can cause damage to homes. It isn’t quite the issue with central heating but still not a bad idea.
I don’t always do something special for Lent. I’ve been known to give up sugar and chocolate for 40 days and one year when I was led to do so I went on an intense but sensible fast. Never felt better. Cleared my mind and my body to do some things which had to be dealt with. Last year I learned the Rosary. It is a wonderful tradition.
One thing I am careful about is not doing things I don’t feel “called” to do. A strange term to some but one of the things I try to do in this life is listen to the Spirit of the Divine. Often I miss the mark. In moments like today I try to listen carefully about what it is I am being asked to do, asked to give up,or asked to add to my life.
As fate would have it I am in a place this year where it is easy for me to do what I need to do without worrying about anyone else. I’ve been gifted with a home of retreat to stay in and pray in for a month. There is a lovely fire where I sit and read or just crochet for a while. There is a sweet old dog who doesn’t require much of me but forces me to get out and walk. That is something I need to get back to doing after a few years of back and foot issues. To top it off he likes to walk on the beach which isn’t far away and happens to be my favourite spot in the world.
I don’t know yet exactly what I’m supposed to be doing for this Lenten season. Perhaps I’m already doing it. Just learning to be more aware of the Divine in my life. Whatever it is I know as long as I am listening to that “still small voice” it will be exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
What are you doing to support your season of renewal?