Friday, 13 April 2012

A Place at the Table - a Lenten reflection

A Place at the Table - 40 days of Solidarity with the Poor, written by Chris Seay, is an intriguing book which helps us travel through Lent. Each of the 40 days of Lent has a daily reflection; Bible excerpts based on The Voice translation,with added emphasis from Chris; a prayer; and a cameo of someone else's life: someone who, unlike most in the more affluent parts of the world, lacks the basic essentials of life such as adequate food or clean drinking water.
Much of the 'fasting' Chris Seay suggests makes good sense for anyone trying to live a life which honours Jesus, yet an added emphasis on these disciplines during Lent gives an incentive to refocus and reevaluate. His tips for eating include putting away our phones; observing the natural colours of the food we eat; savouring flavours, taking time to enjoy each meal; smell before we eat; develop the art of great conversation; establish rituals which focus on others - perhaps praying for specific individuals; and remembering the poor, finding creative ways of bringing the poor to mind with both prayer and gifts. Much of the emphasis is also on practical help through Compassion International or Living Water International.
Lent, however, is not all about fasting but also feasting: each Sabbath day has readings designed to help us celebrate the risen Jesus. I, personally, find the idea of 'feasting' during an extended fast a little difficult - somehow, I lose focus - but acknowledge that it is part of a long heritage of the Church. I am conscious, too, of Jesus' admonition to remain cheerful while fasting!
I eagerly read each day's offering, starting off with good intentions to fast for the whole 40 days. Sadly, I did not manage to keep up my fast entirely, apart from a vow not to read any fiction during Lent, which was a real sacrifice. However, I continued with the readings: the focus on reflection and prayer inspired me throughout Lent and I celebrated Easter with added thought and prayer.
I'm writing this review at the end of Lent, but the book - as it suggests at the beginning - could be used for any 40 day period of fasting. I'll go through it again. And my thanks to the Woman Alive Book Club who sent me the book. I had no idea it would be so interesting and inspiring!

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