Eat Tray Love

(with apologies to anyone who dislikes puns, but this one was too good to resist!)

I bought this tray last year in a sale, liking its jaunty message and appearance. Then the other day, as I was wiping it, I was suddenly struck by how appropriate the words are for Lent...

Eat well... Because a central pillar of Lent is fasting - be it fasting from a compulsive habit or 'giving up' some pleasing food or drink. Effectively, we free ourselves from one thing in order to be free for something better, nourishing our souls with healthy, nutritious food, while depriving our bodies of sugar, alcohol or whatever else we give up. In the process we can grow in gratitude for and awareness of what we consume, and what we choose to do. And then, our Lenten delight is the gradual discovery that the things which nourish us most and give us the strength we need don't come in a bottle or a plastic wrapper; that our strength comes from within, from our relationship with the God we are acutely, poignantly reminded of each time we crave whatever we have given up.

Laugh often... Because Lenten austerity needn't mean gloomy faces: as Jesus said - When you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others they are fasting... (Matthew 6.16). So we face Lent and our cravings with outward (and maybe even inner) humour, knowing that God sees and rewards the secrets of our hearts. But also because Lent is our springtime with God, a time which can be filled with hope and surprises and the delight of growth and new life; a time for gratitude, inner joy, broad smiles and laughter, not pessimism and miserable looks.

Love much... Because apart from fasting, the other pillars of Lent are prayer and almsgiving, both of which spring from - and are expressions of - love. And because the fundamental motivation for any fasting, let alone prayer, has to be our love for God, and our desire for it to deepen and increase; and for it to overflow, in generosity and a broader love, which underlies whatever form our almsgiving will take. And because what our hurting world so needs right now are people who will allow their hearts to be opened and widened, so as to pour out a love full of healing, tenderness and compassion.

So... this Lent let us eat well... laugh often... and above all, love much... Or love much, and we will consequently laugh often and eat well, with surprise and gratitude...