6605 days isn’t a small number, that is at least 18 years with a few weeks left over. That this is a finite number ticking down 1 day at a time can be sobering though. And interestingly, 6605 days seems a lot less than 18 years plus to me … (another topic to reflect over for another post).
With a finite number of days left to savour the world, why am I then fasting for Lent? Shouldn’t I just eat whatever I want since I will not have all the time in the world? Ironically, vampires (if they do exist) have all the time in the world, but only 1 item that they consume for all time (which is really depressing if you think about it).
Usually, for the 40 days of Lent, from Ash Wednesday till Good Friday, I would abstain from something – usually a meal a day, though I have also given up gaming before.
I used to go into the Lenten season thinking that I am “observing” Lent. And Catholics do refer to these acts as part of Lenten observances. It can seem like a weighty obligation viewed in this light, more so against a backdrop of a ticking clock. And that view defeats the true intention of Lent.
This year, I went into Lent with a different premise: it’s about coming home to and becoming closer to someone I love deeply (God). Abstinence without that central premise at its core is just a vanilla diet plan.
In this light, I can see how abstinence is the practice of discipline to master my physical desires and wants beyond just the meal I gave up. And this practice of discipline takes place in the context of my family and the wider church community which draws me closer to God.
Viewed as a homecoming to a person I very much love, the Lenten “observances” start to feel joyous as a way to help me abide in God. It is a celebration of my love and an expression of my desire be with God. With only a finite number of opportunities to celebrate Lent, why shouldn’t I?