“The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
I was raised Catholic. Today, I would like to think of myself as a good human being who embraces certain Catholic practices.
Catholics have Lent and Muslims have Ramadan. 40 days and roughly, 30 days long, respectively. Both periods are meant for increased prayer and reflection, and personal sacrifice. Are there any other religions or streams of thought that have similar periods marked specifically for this? Please share. I would like to learn. And maybe adopt some of those practices.
I left home for college at the age of 19. As I tend to in every new city or country that I live in, I try to get to know every possible facet of the place. It helps me understand the people better and it makes me appreciate the different life there so much more. That knowledge and experience then adds a little colourful piece to the big, resplendent jigsaw puzzle called ‘Life’.
Until I left home at 19, I was still considered a child, and therefore, was not expected to “give up” anything for Lent. I love eating. Which is why I was horrified when Big Bro would fast all day on Good Friday. The rest of us at home had very scaled down meals that day and I hated those! Hee hee! “Boring” food was torturous enough; not eating at all was simply unthinkable for me.
Then I left home and I very conveniently left all those practices at home, too. Until I moved to Saudi Arabia. By my mid 20s, my horror at the thought of starving to death fasting had turned to curiosity. I read more about why Muslims fasted during the month of Ramadan. I liked what I learned and I decided to give fasting a shot since my Muslim colleagues did it without a murmur.
The first year, I fasted on Fridays alone, being the first day of the weekend in Saudi Arabia. Emboldened by my success, the next year, I fasted on Fridays and Saturdays i.e. the entire weekend. I finally worked my way to fasting every alternate day. I did not attempt the full, dawn-to-dusk-for-a-month fast like the Muslims because I had already gained the insight and experience I sought, and because I was concerned I would lose weight, something I can ill afford to date.
During those years, I fasted only to see if I could will my mind to stay away from food. It was hard, but I did it. And I felt great!
After I left Saudi Arabia, I decided to apply my well honed, um, fasting skills during Lent. I pulled it off with ease every Friday. That is why I do not fast all day on Fridays any more. Not even on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. Fasting all day is too easy for me now. The bigger challenge for me today is staying away from things I love eating.
During my second Lenten season after Saudi Arabia, I decided to jump in at the deep end. I gave up chocolate or some form of dessert that is the wonderful ending of my lunch and dinner every day. I suffered. I grumbled. I ranted. To everyone. And the whole purpose of abstaining that year for Lent was lost.
A few years of decreased wailing followed, and I am wiser today. As I got stronger i.e. I made less of a ‘woe is me’ scene, I gave up my absolute favourite food items – desserts, pork preparations and certain other favourite dishes i.e. steaks, grilled meats and biryani (a fragrant, South Asian pilaf).
This year, I have upped the ante the highest I can go. I have given up meat and fish as well. Avoiding meat and fish is not terribly hard for me, but I chose to give them up because I enjoy them very much. I also want my Lenten sacrifice to have a bit of a green lustre this year.
Oh, there are two other things I gave up last year and now again, this year.
1. I have restricted my PC time to my e-mail and blogs of people I know personally, and those I have been following before Lent began.
2. I listen to Choral or Classical music all day instead of my usual Pop and Rock during the week, and Country and Classical on Sundays.
So that’s the “giving up” bit of my Lenten practice this year again. Giving up then spurred me to take on something else now that I had a little more time on hand. So here’s what I took on last year, and again, this year.
1. More time in prayer. (Not doing a good job there. My motor mouth has nothing on my Duracell-bunny-brain.)
2. More time reading the Scriptures. (Not terribly exciting for me.)
That’s it. Those are the only two things I’ve taken on for Lent. I pretty much like the way I live my life the rest of the year.
Now, I’d like you to meet two bloggers I stalk I’ve RSSed. Take a bow,
This past weekend, I read MJ’s post ‘My So-Called Simple Life‘)http://www.mjmonaghan.com/2012/02/25/google-facebook-twitter-simple-amish/)
and then, I read Chris’ post ‘love is a verb…‘ (http://misslisted.com/2012/02/25/love-is-a-verb/)
Somewhere along their respective posts, MJ said, “Amish” and Chris said, “Lent”. A couple of things clicked and clanged in my head and this post was born.
“One of my Lent projects is to make sure I hug each of my children every day that I’m with them. ”
The above line of Chris in particular, was what sent the ball rolling in the direction of MJ’s third question.
“3. What changes have you made to simplify your life?”
I am going to answer that here because these are changes I have made over the years and I follow them all year round. They involved giving up some things and taking on other things.
First and foremost, I have to say I have learned from watching my parents exemplify the ‘Non multa, sed multum’ way of life. In Latin, that means ‘Not many, much’ or ‘Not quantity, quality’. So it has never been too hard for me to give up or take on certain practices because among a few other things, Dad and Mum stressed these two thoughts about most choices we, three children at home, would make.
1. Will it make me happy?
2. Will it hurt anyone?
That said, here are some of the bigger changes I have made over the years. I practice these all year round now.
1. Cyber Life: I do not have accounts on Facebook*, Twitter or any other social medium; just e-mail and this (4 month old) blog. My decision to not jump aboard the social media bandwagon is the same for not posting more frequently here. You can read those reasons on the ‘About My Blog’ page.
*I have access to Big Sis’ Facebook account because I put up her photo albums and update her Profile picture. I like doing it for her. She likes me helping her out.
2. Television: I have slotted one hour a day for TV, except for certain events like award shows and significant live events around the world. One hour or less of telly time each day is easy for me because my beast is reading.
3. Diet: I used to eat meat and fish every day. For the past 4 years, I’ve still been eating fish every day, but I have reduced the meat portions to three, four times tops, a week in an effort to reduce my contribution to greenhouse gases. Not only has my carbon footprint reduced, my conscience is lighter, too. Although, my bragging about my green ways has more than doubled. I do not want to remedy that because bragging about it makes me feel good.
4. Travel: For six years now, I have been using public transport as often as I can (which is 95% of the time) because it helps the environment and the forced commute on foot to bus stops or car pool spots doubles as exercise. Planning ahead is key when using public transport.
5. Social Life:
a. When at home: I do not attend every social function I am invited to. Just belonging to the same social circle is not criterion enough for me to oblige anyone. I go only if the acquaintance has been kind to me, my family or my close friends. Traditions and social obligations mean jack little to me. This practice gets me into trouble, but I go to bed happy at night knowing that I did not force smiles or spew empty words at some meaningless-to-me fancy do.
b. When away from home: I work all week and I play all weekend. Play includes one day at least, out of the house doing something I like. It can be as cheap as a reading and falling asleep on the grass in the local park or the most expensive choice (for me so far) of going for a play or concert. Almost every weekend includes friends coming over for the weekend or me going over to a friend’s for a sleepover.
And this is how I try to embrace some of the wholesomeness (in my opinion) and simplicity of the Amish life, not just during Lent, but the entire year. And from now on, I’m going to add Chris’ practice of hugging my relatives and friends even more. If that were even possible.
Thank you, MJ and Chris, for generously letting me steal your ideas share your posts which resulted in this mash-up post of mine.
A slight change of pace now.
Today is Elvie Rose’s birthday. Who is Elvie Rose? I dunno. Personally, I mean.
This is Elvie Rose’s blog. (http://flowersblooms-elvierose.blogspot.in/) I got in touch with her because I wanted to use one of her pictures for the post I had originally planned for today. (That post has been re-scheduled.) She gladly agreed and then she told me it is her birthday today. I love my birthday. She was nice to me. I decided to surprise her!
From the food hound in me to the doggie lover in you – Happy Birthday to you, Elvie Rose!
I’m going to end on a green note. Chill. I am not going to bore you all with yet another strident verse of, “I love Mother Earth! Am I cool or what‽” This is a different kind of green, Emerald (Isle) green specifically.
It was MJ’s birthday two days ago i.e. 28 February. Happy Belated Birthday, One Of The Very Nice Bloggers I’ve, um, Met! True to your Irish roots, here’s a birthday (hangover) wish.
What do you mean, “Kate, how could a nice young lady like you talk about MJ’s … underpants?” Do you think I started it? Nah uh. He started it. Here.
P.S.: Cheerful Monk adds a footnote to every post acknowledging those who comment on her previous post. She also links the commenters’ names back to their own blogs.
I like both these practices of acknowledging the time and effort made to comment, and the free advertising! So I’m doing what I do well – being a copycat!