Monday, April 18, 2011

Lent Fast Lessons Learned

What did you give up for Lent? Do you have the tradition of doing Lent? Or did you add something? a friend of mine pointed out, often it's a better spiritual discipline to decide to DO something than to NOT DO something.

It's been a few years since I have 'celebrated' Lent. My best Lent memories will always be the minimum-wage challenge shared with my friends in Bristol. But since those days I have been moving around so much that adding any specific discipline seemed like little more than additional unnecessary stress.

Nonetheless, after half a decade of consistent transition, I've developed a bit of routine in the upheaval. Things like my computer (nicknamed "maridinho" in Portuguese), my ipod and speakers, and my yoga mat, go just about everywhere with me, offering a slight sense of continuity in my constantly-changing surroundings.

One routine on which I've become frighteningly dependent is coffee. My travel coffee press, a gift from my sister-in-law and nephew (and by default my brother even though he wasn't at the store when it was procured), goes just about everywhere with me. Horror of horrors, it almost did not make it out of the Dar alive. My accompanying Starbucks mug didn't survive, but at least the coffee press did. That item will always find a spot in my suitcase, along with some good coffee, preferably Kenyan (I know, I know, I'm a very bad Brasilian. Me perdoem, irmāos!). Everywhere I go, if nothing else, I can count on my morning coffee.

So this year, my mom casually asked if I thought I'd ever give up coffee. It was an offhanded remark and I don't think she meant anything by it. But it got me to thinking, and I realised that I truly have become dependent. An addict, if you will.

So I decided that for Lent 2011, I would give up coffee. This applies to all coffee drinks but not to other coffee products (for example, coffee ice cream is OK, so when I accidentally ordered a mocha frappaccino at S'bucks instead of plain chocolate, I decided that that was not an infracture). And since Friday is the day-off in these parts, I take Friday off and drink a cup or two. I'll do an extra week after Easter so the total number of days evens out, k?

So here is what I have discovered:
  1. I am not addicted to coffee! No headaches or caffeine withdrawals ensued. And, I'd say, only 4 out of every 5 days would find me yawning or glazing over from sleepiness. Not bad.
  2. I AM addicted to the routine. Sometimes in the morning I wander around aimlessly trying to figure out what to do to get moving.
  3. While for years and years and years, I hated the smell of coffee, apparently I love it now. Smelling a colleague's coffee - especially Nescafé, strangely enough - is pure torture.
  4. The thing I most miss is the texture of the drink. Strange, eh? But tea, even tea with milk, is too watery. Hot chocolate is too creamy. Coffee is thick but not too thick. I haven't found a suitable replacement for the texture of coffee.
  5. I miss going to coffee shops. Sure, I still stop by occasionally for an iced tea or a hot chocolate, but it's not the same. I think I'm reading and writing less as a result.
  6. Even though I can't really point to any specific benefits of my coffee fast, I'm very glad I've done it. Discipline is always a good thing, even in these little tiny ways.
I'd love to hear other Lent stories - tell me what you did! tell me what you've learned!


happygirl said...

Wow, giving up coffee... I couldn't do it. I tried for 3 days and the headache was ENORMOUS. I didn't give up anything for lent. Instead I added the practice of yoga and meditation. I did it poorly, but I did it. I learned a lot about myself. The biggest thing I learned is that I am truly broken and NEED a Savior.

Cathy said...

I'm astonished that you could think clearly enough (without a cup of coffee) to write about giving up coffee!

Lisa notes... said...

I think it's interesting what you DID miss about coffee, more than the coffee itself. We should all think more deeply through our "addictions." And congrats that yours wasn't one after all! :-)

I didn't give up anything for Lent, but added something. My husband and I committed to pray aloud together every day. Even after almost 40 days, I don't think we've gotten into a routine yet. We haven't missed any days, but it's still not coming natural to do this. Will we stop after Easter? I hope not, but I don't really know...

alittlebitograce said...

I wasn't going to give up coffee, but God had other ideas. I've been off my coffee dependency for several weeks now. I'm still drinking it sometimes as I enjoy the taste, but not as my must-have.

I gave up fiction for Lent with the intent of being more productive. This week has been a wash, but on the whole I think it's working.

I gave up snacks(specifically junk food) as a way to build better eating habits. I think that's working as well. I'm definitely not craving chips anymore. :)

Craig said...

I added for Lent. I added reflection and connecting with people – really connecting – and walking with him toward Easter. And self discipline is good – I hate it though!!! And interesting – the making up of the days – kind of brilliant. I heart your words, really I do. Today is “in between” Saturday – Tomorrow I wish a Happy Easter to you. God bless and keep you and all of yours Kati.

alittlebitograce said...

Thank you! (yes, I'm replying to your comment on my blog by commenting on your blog...) Sometimes I think I collect friends. I seem to need them like I need water, leading me to believe that we weren't meant to do life on our own. However, it would definitely be easier to live in isolation at times!

Happy Easter! Christ is risen!

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