ARTICLE FOR CHURCH NEWSPAPERS ~ Lent 2015
The Cup That Cheers – by Julia Beacroft
MUCH AS I LOVE the season of Lent, it can be quite a relief to reach Easter at last. “Why,” you may ask, “when we try to make time for extra prayer and reflection, fasting and almsgiving? Surely it’s the time, when we try to get our own spiritual house in order.” Well, of course this is all true. But I now regard Lent with a little more caution…
I used to find the whole idea of ‘giving something up for Lent’ an exciting and encouraging prospect. I had conversations with my daughters about what we thought we might be able to do without. Of course, chocolate is always a popular one: “I’m giving that up, not you,” my daughters would argue in true Christian spirit. I thankfully don’t smoke, so that was never a contender and I had already given up alcohol, cakes and chocolate in previous years. I could of course repeat one of these but I rather fancied the idea of a new challenge…
Other people’s comments on the subject aren’t always exactly helpful either. They have varied from, “Why bother to give up anything at all?” to “Give up talking! That’s a better idea!” But such comments didn’t solve my problem. So a couple of years ago, after much brain-racking, I thought, “I’ve got it! I’ll give up coffee for Lent.” I ran the idea past my nearest and dearest, whose expressions varied from sceptical to puzzled. “But you’re a coffee addict,” I was told. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Yet I was determined to do it…
Never had six weeks seemed so long to me in all my life! I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to manage without that lifesaving cup – or in my case, mug – throughout the day. And tea just didn’t cut it either. Apparently I became ever grumpier, bad-tempered and frazzled as Lent preogressed.
“For heaven’s sake, have a coffee!” I was told, but I stubbornly refused.
I fought my way through Lent that year without those longed-for coffee breaks of my dreams and I didn’t give in to temptation once. However, I snapped, snarled and growled my way towards the celebration of our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection.
The giving up of coffee was not prayerful or reflective and I was too preoccupied to think about giving the money I had saved to a worthy cause. I felt fed-up and made everyone around me fed-up too. So now, in hindsight, I don’t give up anything for Lent any more – I try to do something extra instead, something that will spill over into the Easter period, if at all possible. And I enjoy my coffee, for all it’s worth… (ENDS – 486 words)
Julia Beacroft is a catechist and pastoral volunteer who lives in Torquay. Her first book
‘Sanctifying the Spirit’ will be published and available to buy from Pentecost 2016.