Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pancake Day - entering Lent with laughter!

Today is Shrove Tuesday.  Pancakes-a-go-go! No surprises there, then.

This is the day folks traditionally use up all their fat and flour, eggs and other goodies in the larder in the production of  pancakes before giving up such treats for the 40 days leading up to Easter Day.

Feast days and fast days. High days, low days, holidays. Carnival and Lent.

My mouth is watering as I prepare some traditional flat crepes for tea, ready to drench them with good things like lemon and orange juice in a burst of "St Clements" flavours! 

Lately, we in the UK have also discovered the delights of the thicker American style pancakes. The ones that are maybe smaller and rounder, more like proper fluffy cakes, fat as gateau slices, sticky with maple syrup or even studded with chocolate drops (or is that just in my dreams?)

However you like your pancakes, I hope you'll enjoy them today with all the "nom nom nom"-ing that always accompanies such a moreish feast.

For me, this year, I'm not planning to give up anything, as such, for Lent, starting tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. I won't be foregoing the usual chocolate (I'm diabetic anyway) or Facebook (for me it's a way of ministering laughter and hope to friends as well as a lifeline for those who are housebound or limited in their ability to reach out into the physical world so easily, myself included at the moment!)

But I've decided this year to use each day of Lent to follow twice daily the prayer patterns of Ignatius of Loyola. Simple! In his "Examen" Ignatius gifted the world with his suggestions for drawing closer to God in our everyday life.

I'm going to do this during Lent 2011 by simply taking a few moments or more twice a day to have a time of what Ignatian Spirituality calls the "Examen" or examination. Amid the whirl and rattle of life, to remind myself I'm walking with my Father and best friend.

To cut to the chase, this means quiet reflection on the day so far, so we can become aware of God's presence with us, where he always is, and to discern his direction for us, giving thanks.

In his book "Spiritual Exercises", Ignatius suggested this prayer time might usefully take place at noon and at the end of the day. So, that's what I'm going to do for Lent this year.

This means:

1. Becoming aware of God's presence wherever you are.

2. Looking back on what's been happening with gratitude.

3. Paying attention to what you are feeling.

4. Choosing something from the day so far to pray about.

5 Looking forward to what's next with God's help.

Seeing God in everything. Drawing close enough to know him as our intimate friend and recognise his whisper in our lives and be brushed by the grace of his touch in unexpected people and events around us.

This Lent, I'm already getting more than a tad excited about Easter!


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