A Lenten Regime

February fill-dyke – only the rains came at the end of January. I’d alleviated the bleakmidwinter bluesby daring to live well, as the Revd Sydney Smith advocated. I’d made just a few resolutions – only those that I knew I would and could keep, that energized me. No strict regimes, no dieting or giving up alcohol – I needed every small help in January (see January archives for the complete miniseries!) But I DID resolve that, come February, there would be a month of being careful, of abstinence in some areas, of learning a new normality. It’s a short month, after all!

Only 28 days -  a mere 28 days to go without alcohol, take care with the diet, up the daily steps to a minimum of 12,000.

And then I realized three things.

-       we complete on buying and selling 2 properties on February 14.

A day for great celebration and love; a day for my favourite tipple - a glass or two of glorious champagne.

-       Lent starts on February 13th this year. And that’s 6 weeks of giving up as a penitential, sacrificial reminder of all that Christ has done for me. Usually I give up reading novels and fiction and magazines. But I haven’t taken up reading again properly yet after PTSS, so it’s hardly worth giving up. And maybe the food and/or drink would be a more meaningful way for Lent this year.

-       I am an abstainer, not a moderator. All or nothing – in just about every area of my life. No good thinking I’ll just have a small piece of chocolate or simply one biscuit, or only one glass of champagne.  I can’t stick to ‘only one.’ But I can turn my back and say ‘absolutely nothing.’

A long time ago, when I was young and enthusiastic, I discovered that I could easily maintain a healthy weight by eating carefully and extremely moderately Monday to Friday and then enjoying the weekends with whatever I wanted, no holding back on food or drink. (I hasten to add that I don’t ever drink more than a couple of glasses of wine anyway, which is why I’m always the designated driver when we are out for dinner!)  Now I read that the new diet regime is a variation of that, a 5:2 timetable of 5 days eating moderately and 2 days of fasting.

In Times2 today there is an article comparing the Alkaline Diet with the 5:2 diet; and Vanora Bennett writes about her version of the latter, when she discovered the mediaeval menus of the Bergundian Cluny Abbey and its 13th Century monks. They believed that fasting brought serenity of mind, that balance in all things was the centre of all things. The monks were served just one meal a day in the winter months, with two on feast days; and two meals a day in summer (when they were out working in the fields and so burning more energy) but only one on fast days.

Vanora modelled her diet on the monks’ winter menu, but added diet snacks, coffee instead of wine (the monks were wary of water but could enjoy wine even for breakfast after early prayers) and hot tea after dark.

So that’s what I am going to do. She quotes Adalbert de Vogue, the French monk, who wrote:

“My mind is at its most lucid, my body vigorous, and well disposed, my heart light and full of joy after experiencing a day of self-denial.”

OH YES to that! Isn't that how we all long to be?

I will start on February 15th. I dare not start on 13th and promise just 1 glass of champers on the 14!

Let’s be real and honest and set the standard in reality. 

And best of all, the time NOT spent in shopping, cooking, preparing, consuming, the normal vast quantities of stuff demanded by our western diets, is then available to be spent in relationship. With God, with my husband, with ….. oh, I forgot.

Husband needs to eat. Can I persuade him to follow this diet with me too?

Check back to see what happens – with my diet, my husband’s, and my time in relationship with God, my husband and others!


What are you doing in Lent this year? How do you find it easiest to give up things? What advice do you have for me and for others?

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