I grew up in “Holy Catholic Ireland” and as children the done thing was to give up sweets for Lent.
There was no personal choice in the matter for us. We didn’t deliberate about what kind of sacrifice we might like to make. It was simply decreed (in my family, anyway) that there would be no sweets for Lent. If guests came to visit and brought us sweets or chocolate as a gift, we put them in a jar or tin—saving them for St Patrick’s Day (when we got a reprieve) and Easter Sunday. (Between our stash and our Easter eggs, Easter Sunday was a glorious pig-out day.)
As soon as I was old enough to be permitted to make my own decisions on such matters, I turned my back on Lent—along with all things I perceived to be religious dogma. And as an adult I inwardly scoffed at any friends who continued to give up some kind of treat to mark this religious period. (I’m not proud of my scorn.)
But life goes on and in my thirties I found myself working as a life coach. This was a valuable period in my life when I shifted many (not all) stubborn patterns and perspectives. And during this time I began to look at Lent as a potential gift.
Instead of viewing the 40 days and 40 nights as a time of sacrifice to be performed as some sort of penance, I started to see it as an opportunity to harness a collective energy to do something differently. While it doesn’t pack quite the same punch as January for inspiring a “new-year, new-you, can-do” attitude, Lent is a time when a great many people worldwide make a concerted effort to change a habit.
And there’s power in collective energy.
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