It’s time to speak up for the closet faithful (and also the ones who couldn’t care less).
The quiet and almost elusive chap in our friend’s office just asked for a lift the other day because he was going to someplace that was on my drive home and we got chatting during the ride.
He is an avid photographer and eagerly showed his pictures on the iPhone and even played a clip of his singing (it was very good quality singing indeed). But when I asked what he has done with his singing talent, he went into the shell again. I persisted and he relented. He had given it up for Lent. In fact, not just Lent, he had given up singing forever, except when it was to be for singing the praise of Jesus.
Now this was a rarity.
One hardly ever comes across a person, much less a younger chap, who has such commitment or feeling for a festival and celebration like Lent. The scores of Christian friends I have, especially the ones in Britain, are scornful of anything remotely religious and are at best, cynical about it. Those in Delhi are much more open about it and while they may not follow the celebration, there is not much cynicism here.
“I was getting into drugs and other nasty stuff but a chance meeting with a kindly pastor changed everything for me,” he said. He goes to a church in a Delhi neighbourhood just to sing during the prayer meets.
It is interesting to note that actually the period of lent is 46 days but Sundays are kept out of this period in which some give up one or the other pleasures or foods to underline their ‘tapasya’ and purification of inner selves. It is also a time when one supposedly works quietly without craving for reward or recognition.
This 40 day period is called Lent because that is the Old English word for spring, the season of the year during which it falls. This is something unique to English. In almost all other languages, its name is a derivative of the Latin term for ‘the forty days’.
Curious to know if there were others like him, I have now discovered how there are many besides him who are silently pursuing their faith without drumbeats with some even keeping their abstinences under wraps. The fear of being ‘uncool’ I can be oppressive indeed.
In fact, twitter is abuzz with interfaith support for Lent among American Muslim youth who are chipping in with their own messages and vows in solidarity with their fasting peers among Christians.
A report in a national daily showed how many young people try to stay off social media as a voluntary sacrifice! Some are locking up their mobiles with a message that they are fasting for Lent and can be contacted in more ‘non-traditional’ ways like visiting their homes and meeting personally’!
Guess this idea should catch on much more strongly. One doesn’t have to carry the zeal of the young photographer colleague at the office to celebrate this.
With the market hell-bent on selling, promoting the good (read material) life, one can simply kiss goodbye to any support for anything remotely connected to abstinence from the mandarins of the media. Maybe the online enthusiasts will have an answer.
LENT – The perfect DETOX
Even if you aren’t Christian or a practising one (whatever that means), much less Catholic, it is a great time to try to do something better.
The six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday – when Christians traditionally fast, non-believers can also do something positive about their bodies (which is all they have to do to really have fun and live the life). Isn’t it?
What about giving up Facebook, TV, or sweets for 40 days? How about refraining from sex? A 40 day break from all that and the resurrection after that period is something no amount of expensive F45’s will be able to do. After all, the most feel-good-about-yourself doesn’t really come from indulgence.