So far, Lent has been an engaging experience for me. The 2 parts of my Lent commitments have been working in synergy to produce some interesting results.
On the Discipline of Engagement side I have been pursuing aspects of the Contemplative Life - mainly the practising the presence of God idea which I referenced in my previous post on this. The idea originated with Brother Lawrence, a French monk, who lived in the 16oo's:
That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD's Presence, by continually conversing with Him.
You can read the full text of Brother Lawrence conversations here.
The Discipline of Abstinence which I am undertaking is to moderate my food intake. Moderate is perhaps an understatement - slash, savage, eliminate comes closer!
What has been fascinating to me is how the two have worked together - the constant hunger acts as a constant call to prayer - and so the discipline of abstinence which for me is about redeeming the hold food has on my moods, is promoting the discipline of engagement, which is to be more constantly aware of God's presence. And of course what I need is a greater awareness of God's presence and less self-medication with food.
Here are some other outcomes:
- Food has become somehow different to me this past week - it is less of a habitual passtime and more a part of a sustainable life rhythm. In one sense food has become fuel.
- Meal times have become more worshipful - not of the food(!) - but I have been so hungry that I find myself really thankful for what God has provided.
- It has forced me into a more healthy eating paradigm - I consume massive amounts of milk and bread in a given week. My family have been in awe that the milk has lasted a full week! Same for the bread. But more so, in order to eat anything substantial at night, I have had to increase my vegetable intake - so I've been enjoying finding ways to enjoy veges that I do like: onions, garlic, capsicums, chillis, zuccinis, mushrooms and managing to use others, that I don't much care for, in creative ways - carrots and tomatoes would fit in here!
- I've invented a couple of great new recipes
- I have lost 3.5kg in week one. That's nearly 8lbs for US viewers.
The most enduring outcome though has been a sense of God's peace. This is in a time of great personal challenge with difficult family issues and demanding work transitions. The last 2 Sundays for example have been fraught with unbelievable personal challenges and yet I have not felt the stress of that as I have been a part of sharing from scripture with the church community.
And for me, the fruit produced, is the main thing I'm looking to measure in all this.