Lent: Feb 22nd – Apr 6th

Back in the day, I volunteered at school to help a couple whom, before marrying and moving into the community, had spent most of their years in an institution. They led full lives despite it taking them two hours to go from bed to breakfast table: Doreen painted and Loggy campaigned locally and nationally for disability rights and accessibility. They were inspiring, and this post honours them.

Lent (LatinQuadragesima,[1] ‘Fortieth’) is the solemn Christian religious observance in the liturgical year commemorating the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert and enduring temptation by Satan


We’re currently in Lent, the 40 days before Easter associated with fasting, abstinence and penitence, the traditional version of Stoptober and Veganuary etc. Whilst many religions involve fasting, their rationales differ: Christianity sees Lent as a way of identifying with Christ’s trials and tribulations in the desert, Hinduism to please and seek blessings of the Goddess Durga and Buddhism holds with the mental clarity and diminished energy it brings helping with meditation. A hangover is evidence of carnal pleasure (in its broadest sense), leaving one feeling a bit…well you know, but whether abstaining from food makes you better or more fit for spirituality is less obvious. Whilst extreme fasting can indue hallucinations, which have traditionally been seen as mystical, given Lent occurs in the “winter gap” when food’s thin on the ground, it’s maybe also a practical way to cope with short rations.

Though I hadn’t planned to observe Lent this year, an inexplicably tricky corner had me suddenly rethink the next few weeks. How quickly the outlook can change: tickety-boo to boo-hoo.

My grandmother would say “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”, which always made me wonder (Margaret Attwood’s version elaborates: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, though it also sometimes makes you peevish.”). Perhaps even the darkest moments afford some opportunity. Whilst adversity can be crushing, coming through is character and confidence building. Suddenly, without yoga, transport and rowing, there’s room for other things.

Wise words

When I used to push Doreen and Loggy’s wheel chairs, even 28″ Jeans needed a belt, but the scales have tipped 100Kg for many a year since then. Being tall, that hasn’t felt fat, but medical opinion suggests it’s the obese side of overweight. So, as luck would have it, and despite missing the first week, Lent is now an event along with time to contemplate yoga’s fifth limb: Pratyharara.

The term is derived from two Sanskrit roots: prati meaning “against” or “withdraw”, and ahara meaning “food” or referring to anything we take in from the outside. As such, pratyahara can be understood as gaining control over or withdrawing from any external influences.


It can often be hard to tell if the glass is half-full or half-empty and perhaps what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger, either way it always helps to find a cloud’s silver lining.

It’s an ill wind that blows no good, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and not to forget the last thing to leave Pandora’s box.


It’s just a wonderful thing that makes you glad to be alive really.

Lucy’s piano teacher

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