Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not a girl who does moderation very easily. I love a regime, a program, a plan to follow because that’s what helps me to have any semblance of discipline in my life. (For the most recent evidence of this see my last post on my new week resolutions, which I have to say are going pretty well so far.)
And so Lent is a gift to me. A substantial chunk of time to get my teeth into a helpful routine of some sort. Yes I like to cut something out most years (crisps be gone!) but I also like to take something on, a daily practice that has some physical and/or spiritual benefit.
This year I’ve decided to say grace. Every day before every single meal. For some of you this is a regular occurrence anyway and so may not seem out of the ordinary, but I didn’t grow up in a house where we said grace and so it never became an ingrained part of my life. Many times before I’ve thought about how I would like to start having that moment of thanksgiving at every meal time, but it has always remained a nice idea, done once or twice but never enough to become habit.
But this isn’t simply about saying a short prayer. There is a much deeper spiritual, and I hope physical, benefit behind this plan. Giving up a food that is bad for you for Lent is, for many of us, just a way to do a mini diet for a while. I have often found a replacement food to help ease my way through so that it hasn’t felt very costly at all. Food is a habitual comfort to me and I think to many others. I eat mindlessly, out of boredom, not paying attention to what I’m putting in my mouth and what it cost the planet and her people for it to reach my hand in the first place, not concerned about whether or not this food is really beneficial for my body which has been fearfully and wonderfully made. I want to be truly mindful of each bite, thankful for the flavours and textures, grateful for the energy and benefit it will supply for me, and humbled by how easily available it was to me because of how very blessed I am. I want to be more thankful not just for the food in front of me, but for the great chain of people who brought it to my door. I want to pray more meaningfully for those who are struggling to feed themselves and their families, and for the work of those who serve them.
So for the next six and a half weeks that’s what I’m going to do. A Lent full of grace.
But just to make a little bit interesting, and hopefully to keep it very intentional throughout the entire time, I’m going to use a different grace every day. At first I thought about writing my own each time but after about three seconds realised that this was the path to madness – and certain failure. And so, as well as writing a few of my own, I’m going to try and gather graces from other people and places and post one each day on both my Instagram feed and on the Facebook page for the blog. If you have a prayer that you said before eating when you were younger, a current favourite, or any that you know of from around the world, do please share them with me – I have a lot of days to fill!
And if you should happen to find this helpful then please do join me and use these prayers each day. Apart from today’s which will come a little later this afternoon, I will aim to post the daily grace first thing in the morning so that I, and anyone else who cares to, can use it throughout the entire day.
Whatever you choose to do (or not) this Lent, I hope that it is a time of meaning and joy.