Lent, lent, lent, lent, lent

I think it starts around the same time that Cadbury Creme Eggs appear upon supermarket shelves. It’s occasional at first, but by the end of January, or early February, it’s a veritable avalanche.

I talk of course of the onset of lent – which we are celebrating/commemorating today. (Can you ‘celebrate’ Ash Wednesday? It’s categorically not a feast day.) My Twitter feed has talked of little else than lent books, giving ups, taking ons and social media absences for weeks. [You might be thinking I need to follow different people. You might be right.] People are going veggie, giving up booze, abstaining from tweeting, reading wholesome spiritual tomes, not buying things or eating out…as usual, it’s enormously varied.

Lent, Dave Walker styleLent, Dave Walker style.

Back in my youth, I used to be quite good at the lent thing. Several years of vegetarian lents have created an adult who rarely eats meat (I’m a flexitarian these days); once I gave up fizzy drinks (no idea how this was a big deal – we rarely had them in the house!); I’ve certainly never given up alcohol or chocolate. To be honest, I’m a bigger fan of taking something on for lent. After all, Jesus may have fasted in the wilderness, but he also took on the challenge to live in the desert in the first place…

However, I struggled to think of something. It’s a little like my antipathy towards new year’s resolutions. Why now? Why just for 6 weeks? But, over the weekend, a challenge fell into my lap and I’m seizing it with both hands. I’m retreating.

Well, not literally. At vicar school, there’s an annual retreat weekend (last year I went up north for ‘finger painting with God’ and created what everyone else decided was a golden boob). This year, I opted for a ‘retreat in daily  life’ instead of a weekend away, and this takes place over lent. Initially, at our induction on Saturday, I was hugely dubious; but yesterday I met my spiritual director for the period and she’s super lovely and encouraging. We’ve worked out what my pattern of prayer will be and I’ll meet with her regularly to see how it’s going.

The basis for my pattern – or what will form the morning bit of it at least – is Sacred Space, a website run by Jesuits. I discovered it a couple of months ago, courtesy of a seminar at a vicar weekend, and it’s been brilliant. One of it’s key elements is colloquy – conversation – with Jesus, as if he’s sat next to you on the sofa. [Amusingly, when I told my vicar about the conversation aspect, he asked “who with?”, I replied “Jesus!” and he looked relieved – I then asked if he’d imagined there was a phone number you could ring in order to speak to a Jesuit. Though I rather like that idea!] Obviously, there’s some Bible reading too as well as an evening reflection upon the day.

Given that I’m a trainee vicar, a routine of daily prayer might not seem like much of a challenge. After all (as one friend takes peculiar joy in reminding me frequently), once ordained we’re obliged to say the Daily Office daily. (The clue’s in the name.) However, it’s immensely challenging to find a pattern that works, stick to it, and stay accountable during the process. So personally, I think this is a pretty good lenten activity and I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing how it goes – particularly as this year’s lent will be rather more interesting than other years.

But that, quite literally, is a story for tomorrow…


  1. Liz, your Lent blog reminds me of a song my girls used to sing…….with actions!
    In case you don;t know it, It went,
    Prayer is like a telephone for us to talk to Jesus
    Prayer is like a telephone for us to talk to God
    Prayer is like a telephone for us to talk to Jesus
    Pick it up and use it every day

    We can shout out loud
    We can whisper softly
    We can make no noise at all
    But He’ll always hear our call

    Now I’m on my way to bed and it is going round and round and round in my head!

    • I remember that song! (And the actions!) And as soon as I read your comment, I had it stuck in my head too!
      I’m now wondering if we should resurrect it at church…

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