This Lent, Jessica and I decided to go down to one car between us. A different sort of fast than usual. 

This particular decision was made for various reasons: to fast for the earth by hopefully using the car less, perhaps to enjoy some cost-savings, to set some boundaries, to slow down and be more intentional about travel, to not take for granted this convenience, and reflect on where I have become dependent on this form of personal transportation. It won’t be easy, but I think it will be good. I hope that it will give me more opportunities to practice patience, prayer, surrender, flexibility, and good humour.   

However, there has been another unintentional and surprising opportunity that has already come out of it. The fast has already born fruit! Just a few days after Ash Wednesday, we heard that our good friends’ car had broken down and that it would take them a few weeks to arrange to get a replacement. Because of this fast, we were able to unreservedly say, “please, use this care for the next month.”

Sharing this story is not meant to pat myself on the back.  Instead, it is to make the point that the benefits and opportunities from fasting and other spiritual disciplines can sometimes surprise us. 

It is also to say that the point of fasts and Lenten practices is not to punish ourselves or make us miserable. Rather, these disciplines should, ideally, lead us to greater love for God and neighbour; lead us to greater generosity, peace, and justice in our lives and in the world. 

I pray that we may all be surprised along our Lenten journeys this year. I pray that in all our spiritual practices that we may grow in our abilities to both give and receive God’s abundant grace. 

Thanks be to God!