Stepping up my Lenten sacrifice
Sacrifice and self-denial are admirable practices, especially in a modern world where we just expect to get everything we want all the time. Americans and Western Europeans are especially prone to this type of attitude. We take for granted life essentials like food, shelter and medicine. These things don’t always come cheap, but we almost never have to worry about them being available.
With today being the start of Lent, I am joining millions of Catholics and other Christians in a 40-day exercise of “giving something up.” Like many others, I often struggle to decide what that “something” will be, especially when I consider how long 40 days are. In my opinion, it really shouldn’t be something too easy, like chocolate or some other treat that may only tempt you occasionally. At the same time — unless you’re really good at self-discipline — choosing something too difficult could be setting yourself up for failure. For me, this would be the magic elixir known as coffee. I mean, come on, I still need to be productive at work in the mornings.
Last year, I went for the easy end of the spectrum, giving up crackers. Yes, crackers. They are a staple of my diet — I can’t eat a bowl of soup without them — so it was a sacrifice I noticed. However, this year, I wanted to take it up a notch. So, after Googling “Top 10 Things To Give Up for Lent,” I stumbled on an answer: No snacking after supper.
This will definitely make me mindful of what it is like to give something up. I would guess that between 30 to 40 percent of my daily caloric intake comes between the hours of 8 p.m. and midnight, and those calories are often “empty” ones.
Hunger, whether it comes from simple boredom or true dietary deficiency, is one of the most nagging human desires. As the writer of the Top 10 list says, giving up eating after dinner provides “just a glimpse of how Jesus struggled when he was hungry” during his 40 days in the desert.
Fasting is a tradition observed by many religious faiths around the world, and I can understand why: the need and desire for food is truly universal. As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, we in the Western world tend to take food for granted, forgetting that millions of people struggle with the threat of starvation every day. Connecting to those struggles, even in a minor way, is a powerful means of empathy.
So, wish me luck, as I am sure I will be “white-knuckling” the first few nights. I can already see myself having a few “slips” here and there, as I instinctively grab some crackers out of the cupboard or gobble down some leftovers in the fridge, but I’m hoping I’ll at least learn a lesson in sacrifice.
OUT FOR A WALK