Early this morning, we pounded up the final hill and around the trees, and back to our starting point. “Well done team!” I panted. “What a great run!” We grabbed our water bottles and then I added, “Home for breakfast. I’m hungry!”
"I hope you’re not too hungry, Mum,” said Sophie. “Remember it’s Ash Wednesday.”
“Yes, a whole day of fasting and abstinence,” said Charlotte.
“A whole day of starving,” grinned Gemma-Rose.
As we walked home from the tracks, we talked about Lent. What are we giving up for the next six weeks?
Usually we make a family Lenten sacrifice as well as individual ones.
“We could give up chocolate.”
“Maybe desserts, except we only eat those on Sundays anyway.”
“We could give up complaining.” I suggested. “Or we could read that book about kindness and then try harder.”
The discussion continued. I know we’ll soon make a decision. Finding a suitable family sacrifice won’t be difficult.
But my personal sacrifices? Not so easy. The usual choices passed quickly through my mind: red wine (but these days I tend to drink wine only on Sundays), movies (but I hardly ever watch any), TV (I never watch TV)… And then an appropriate sacrifice occurred to me, one that is both perfect and a little frightening…
I asked myself what I love doing more than anything. And the answer came back loud and clear: writing and blogging. I know many bloggers have a fast from the Internet each Lent, but I’ve never before been tempted to join them. I’ve always pushed the thought away as soon as it’s formed in my mind. But not this year. This year it's a serious option.
I love writing and posting and chatting online. There is nothing I’d rather do in my spare time. I think about giving that up for six whole weeks. Could I do it? I can’t even stay away from my blog for a day or two. Every time I have a blogging break, I am back within a week. Six whole weeks… that’s a long time. That would hurt. But isn’t that what sacrifices are all about? The more they hurt, the more valuable they are, the more grace that will result. I am so badly in need of grace. And I have so many intentions I am praying for.
Still... I wonder if I could survive so long away from blogging. I think of my blog pageviews ticking over ever more slowly as the weeks go by. By Easter, my blog will be barely alive. I think of myself with a dozen stories to tell and no one to share them with. I reconsider giving up red wine and chocolate and movies instead.
When the girls and I run along the main fire trail for the final lap of our morning run, slowly climbing that never-ending hill, I grit my teeth and keep going. Nothing will make me give in and slow to a walk. I visualise the finish line where the water bottles are waiting, and I keep on pounding along. I know I will feel wonderful when the run is over. A feeling of real satisfaction will envelop me. I’m going to walk home feeling fit and healthy, rejoicing in my strong legs and my ability to move.
And I wonder why I can't apply the same determination to my spiritual life, where the rewards are infinitely greater. Why, when it comes to spiritual things, am I so weak?
This Lent I really want to run a good spiritual race. It’s going to hurt, I'm certain. Can I do it? I really don’t know, but I’m going to try. So I’m not saying goodbye to wine or chocolate or anything I really won’t miss. No, this year, I am saying good bye to my blog.
So tomorrow I begin my run, through Lent and onto Easter, where we will meet again with joyful hearts.