Some of you may not maintain any rituals related to Lent. Others “give up” something traditionally for this season. I’ve always thought it was odd to give something up like beer or soda or chocolate and then when Lent is over go back to those things. Why not give up a habit and keep giving it up? Anyway, I have a proposal for you. I’m going to try and get you ready (and myself) for Lent by creating a habit. That’s right – start a habit. I’m going to focus on several. One of them may connect with you and you will keep it for all of Lent or all of life.
This idea comes in part from a “Make or Break” program from the Mayo Clinic – parts of it are just my idea. Let’s look at the first:
“Prayerfully Prepare” – How do you eat your meals? Are you in a rush? Do you grab fast food or sit in front of the Olympics as you eat not knowing what you are even consuming? Don’t get me wrong, I love pizza and a cold beer while watching sports but that is not an optimal way to aim for health. Many programs I’ve looked at in the past don’t even consider this part of the discipline of health.
Take the time while you prepare your meal to pray. Pray about what you will eat, pray as you prepare the food, pray as you sit down to eat, and pray when you are done. These don’t have to be formal long impressive prayers. Make it something that gathers your thoughts around gratitude for what you have. Light one or more candles to remind you of God’s presence. Think about the smells, the flavors, the textures of the food. Slow down as you eat – don’t gulp and don’t fill the time with noise and distractions. Things like “Bad Morning America” or the “Evening Dose of Bad News” can really make for a stressful time of eating. Make meal time a time to relax a little – unwind.
Just the act of eating at the table for your meals and snacks may keep you from the grab and go mentality and can help with weight and stress management in your life. It can also add to conversation and an attitude of gratitude. Appreciate the variety of foods God has given us for health. We are blessed and eating is not a necessary evil – it is a blessing of a healthy lifestyle.
Now what happens if you do this just for the 40 days of Lent? Even if you take a day off you are way ahead in the good habit department. You are doing this for you because the “Great Commandment” suggests that you should love your neighbor as you love yourself. In other words love yourself enough to give your body good things for your health and well being so that you can love your neighbor with energy and health.