Talking to my ‘adult’ daughter (she is 19) on the phone the other day she suddenly got quite excited when she realised that it was almost ‘pancake day.’ I pointed out that this meant that it was also almost Lent. She said ‘yeah, yeah, but I love pancakes!’As you read this, ‘pancake day’ has been and gone. Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, was a day for making pancakes to use up fat and butter before the beginning of Lent. In France this day was called Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). The name lives on in the great celebrations that last for much more than a day in New Orleans. For many people, especially in Medieval Europe, it was the last time they would eat meat until Easter Day, so as they said farewell to meat or Carne Vale in Latin they celebrated and gave us the idea of Carnival
as a time of fun and excitement particularly in Rio de Janeiro. But Lent doesn’t conjure up much excitement does it? Lent is a time when many of us give something up. Usually, chocolate, or alcohol, cigarettes (if you are still a smoker). It is a time when we can feel a bit miserable, especially if we have given up something we really enjoy. It can feel like several weeks of hanging about waiting for it all to be over and Easter to happen. And that is a shame because Lent should and can be so much more. Lent comes from an old English word for Spring time: a time of new
growth; a time when the sleeping winter world starts to wake itself up. Lent shouldn’t be a sad time. It should be a time for growth, a time for preparation. Giving up something we enjoy, showing a little bit of self restraint can help us grow as individuals. In the same way, being kinder to others, helping those less fortunate than ourselves,
giving more to charity, saying our prayers more regularly, coming to church more often, reading the bible more regularly can also help us grow, can help us to prepare. Prepare for the great feast of the Resurrection: Easter Day.
This month, whatever you decide to give up, whatever you decide to do extra, as the world around us wakes from its winter sleep, use Lent to grow. Use Lent to awaken yourself from your spiritual slumber and see how much you can achieve.