Saturday was the final day of my 40-day Lenten fast, which I have done for the first time in my life, in keeping with the Russian Orthodox tradition of preparing for Easter. I had at one time hoped to actually be in Russia for Easter this year, but because of the new grandbaby coming and my daughter Becky’s recital in Colorado, it wasn’t the right decision to be away. So to connect with my friends who observe this tradition, I decided to participate in the fast instead. The emphasis, as I learned, is not really on “what not to eat” but rather on the simple decision to abstain from certain foods and when doing so reflect on Christ’s sacrifice. Moreover is the response–acts of kindness toward those around me.
In retrospect, I have found a new appreciation for the “foods of the garden” as well as an otherwise unexplainable serenity that now surrounds me. I might even remain a vegan. It agrees with me.
The practice of kindness doesn’t always come naturally to me, but during these 40 days, I have experienced the beginnings of a transformation. Most of us have heard it said that it takes about 3 weeks to form a new habit. May it be. I want to be a kinder, gentler person. More like Jesus.
In times past, I would have considered “giving up” something for Lent as silly, legalistic, or simply bothersome. The “pain” of sacrifice seemed unnecessary to my salvation and extraneous to the resurrection joy I already possessed.