Losing it for Lent
I'm not strong on personal discipline. Indeed, in many ways my personal life (including my spiritual discipline) is a shambling mess. Some people may be shocked at a Methodist minister saying that (indeed I AM a disgrace to the memory of our methodical founder John Wesley)... others who know me personally will know that I am merely being honest. The chaos of my life is a relatively creative chaos (most of the time), but it is also exhausting and and unhealthy, physically, mentally and spiritually. So I continually aspire to some sort of order in the midst of chaos... I've given up on those who offer quick-fix, self-help solutions, but am increasingly inspired by those who advocate a re-examination of ancient spiritual practices as a means of bringing order out of chaos, including Brian McLaren in his recent book "Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practice" (the first in a whole series I am led to believe).
As I have said in the review of this book in the side-bar, Brian McLaren is not an expert on spiritual disciplines... but then I've read lots of books by such experts and they have all been depressing in the extreme, as they may have inspiring but have rarely had a lasting impact on my daily practice. This book is written by someone rediscovering these things for himself, and is written in such an engaging and practical way that I think it may have a longer lasting impact personally than many of the "classics" because it asks really basic questions, whilst still tapping in (unashamedly) to the ancient traditions. And I'm not alone in this assessment of the book, most of our local church book group, found it challenging or useful, where more traditional models of modern evangelical piety have become less helpful to them. That was one of the reasons I recommended it for Lent, which is one of the ancient fasts, aimed at getting our lives in order in the run up to the greatest of the Christian festivals: Easter.
Again I've posted on the sidebar a quote by Julie Clawson from Sojourners' God's Politics Blog where she says:
"Lent isn't about denial; it is about transformation. It is the season in which we prepare to encounter Christ's sacrifice by endeavoring to become more Christ-like ourselves. Transformation is about letting ourselves be filled with God's presence so that we can be shaped by God's grace."
That's as good a definition of what Lent is about as I have ever read... Denial may play a part in transformation... but that transformation may involve taking up some things as well as giving up others...
In my case I'm endeavouring (again) to put a little bit of discipline into my life this Lent... Mentally, spiritually and physically...
The physical side will involve a certain amount of denial... insofar as I am attempting to lose a substantial amount of weight which has piled on because of post-injury inactivity... And I am inviting you to make me accountable for that weight-loss by sponsoring me per pound (I don't do kilos) lost... Any money raised will be divided equally between Dundonald Family and Community Initiative (DFCI) and the Methodist Church World Development and Relief Fund (WDRF)... So in theory it will not just my body being transformed, but, in a small way, this will help transform the lives of people at home and abroad. I hope to put a widget in the sidebar for giving soon for those who prefer electronic transactions rather than cold hard cash!
The whole thing got under way with a weigh-in in front of the folks at "Sticky Fingers", DFCI's Carers and Toddlers programme on Wednesday morning... but it was an inauspicious beginning given that a few hours later when I was at my annual appointment with my dietician (due to my diabetes) her scales registered a full stone extra! But when I went back and checked the other scales, they too confirmed the awful truth!
So not only am I over weight, I'm clearly short-sighted too since I (and others) had obviously misread the scales the first time... Either that or one bowl of bacon, lentil and tomato soup was converted instantly into 1 stone of Campton.