Feasting and fasting

So it's Ash Wednesday, and I'm all too aware that there are another three whole hours till dinnertime! But I'm also aware that there is a reason for the fasting, for the next six weeks of "giving up", and that reason is to create extra space for God; the God who, deep down, I crave far, far more than any chocolate biscuits.

And it's been a lovely spring day! A cold start, yes, but then the sun came out and everything looked and felt different. And as I've said before I love the fact that the word Lent comes from the old English word for lengthening, which is also the old word for spring. Lent should definitely be a time for all the new life and new beginnings contained in this season - and for some interior "spring cleaning"! So I was interested to read an article this morning by my friend Philip Endean SJ, who took the idea of "lengthening" and writes about stretching ourselves and reaching our full stature (here).

I was also delighted to see the following shared by someone on Facebook. I've seen it before, but today was the first time it really caught my attention: -

Lent should be more than a time of fasting. It should be a joyous season of feasting. Lent is a time to fast from certain things and to feast on others. It is a season in which we should:

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them....

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from thought of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on the phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on hope.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

There was no author acknowledged, and as I like to do this with whatever I share, I turned to Google. I did find the author - William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher and pastor, 1921 - 1994) - but in the process I also found several variants or additional lines. For example

Fast from being so busy; feast on quiet silence
Fast from problems that overwhelm us; feast on prayerful trust
Fast from talking; feast on listening
Fast from trying to be in control; feast on letting go.

All so very true and very right for me and my busyness! And a lovely final line in one version, which took me back to my last blog post (Finding Strength):

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that sustains.

Happy Lent everyone - and happy feasting!