Well, it’s 17 days til I break my Lenten fast. Before you start quibbling, I’m following the liturgical calendar, not the Orthodox, so I’ll be finishing on Maundy Thursday. That’s 17 days (or more importantly, nights) away.
Usually about this time in the fast, I’m starting to have some clarity about the questions I entered into it with. As I said here, there are a lot of good reasons to consider giving up a habit to reconsider the place it has in your life and the rippling after effects.
It used to be so easy – Eastercamp would beckon and so my 40 days were easily counted out in preparation, busyness, late nights working with friends on all manner of creative projects. Since those days are long over, it’s been funny to watch Lent all of a sudden becoming popular again among the evangelicals as well as the more liturgical traditions. Of course, for some it’s hard to conceive that anyone who isn’t Catholic would partake.
Here’s what I’ve experienced anyway.
1. There was no hardship in giving up. Only once have I desired a glass of wine, as there was a chill in the air and I was eating something hearty. I’ve been to parties, dinners, drinks at the bar and many more occasions managing to stay true to my decision. I’m really glad, because if it had really grieved me to give it up – I would have been disappointed in myself and concerned for the role alcohol was playing in my life.
2. I’ve been pleased to still hang out in the same places and see people behind the bar cater for me well and (mostly) without too much grief. Can’t necessarily be said for those on the other side of the bar, but that’s part of the attraction for me; the colourful characters that you discover.
3. Focusing on not drinking has brought… well, focus to other parts of my life. There was a brief detox period where I felt sluggish for a couple of days, drank a lot of water and green tea, feeling ill like I would throw up at every training session. For the most part though, my focus has increased and my productivity too.
4. But I do miss it. I miss drinking with friends, I miss tasting the creations of my friendly genii behind the bar. I miss the opportunity to be out and about to try whatever takes my fancy. I miss wine-matching. So I’m looking forward to the 5th, when I will break my fast with something delicious and in the company of friends, first at a Maundy Thursday service and then at the bar before we close it down for another Good Friday holiday.
And thus, here comes Easter – that aching, painful, beautiful gap in my heart. I am looking forward to another break, I’m looking forward to a good party and some great food. I’m looking forward to sharing some good stories and partaking in some brilliant creative endeavors in my community.Wouldn’t change a thing. For those of you who follow the journey of Eastercamp, I begin to wonder (through Lent) if the years we spent wondering if this was the last year, were just years we spent procrastinating the fear of ‘not being there’, ‘not being useful’, ‘not playing my role’. Now I think – the first year I asked the question, is the year I should have quit. Thankfully it was, I just got fired first.
It’s been a similar journey (re: lent) for me too Tash. I used to think Lent was something old and boring and lifeless, from an age gone by. I now realise that growing up in the baptist circles I did, we threw out so many rich and wonderfully deep experiences and traditions. I might go write a blog post about my lent experience now!