As a former business manager, I have learned the great benefits to planning in advance of execution (in both senses, often). The path to Nirvana that I used was Appraise, Plan, Execute, Evaluate, and on the whole it worked. On a good day, a project would come to yield with the greatest return, while on others it amounted to 'think up a list, write list, give out the list, screw the list up'.
And so Lent looms, and with it a considerable work-load in terms of written material and all that goes into it. I have Palm Crosses to nuke first, so pray for the safety of my modest abode, dear Reader! In years gone by, Lent has amounted to 'I will aspire to give up booze this year', only to lapse on the first Thurday evening. I have even tried the 'take something on' approach, and one year that amounted to me saying only nice things about people. That one failed too, in an alarmingly short spell of time, and as a direct result of a reality TV show being aired on the evening of Ash Wednesday. That said, I recognise that some things are just plain impossible for me!
Well, I have another crack at the whip, and this year I am in the zone, man! So, in order to pep-up my own Lenten observance, I am going to do something as cringe-worthy as writing a Blog - and that is to create for myself an easy-peasy aide-memoire, using letters to form a word that I will remember: the letters I choose are ELNT (hold on, they spell something else; gimme a moment)
L - Let Go
E - Education
N - New
T - Time
L - Let Go: This is the 'give something up for Lent' aspect of the enterprise. Why should I do this? Well, 'cos Jesus couldn't order curry in the wilderness - I therefore give up takeways for Lent (it will mean that I cook more, save some shekels and will lose some of my bloated gut! Win, win, win)
E - Education: A vital part of Priesthood is the pursuit of continued learning. Lent at the very least should have time set aside for this important work, and this year, the little Blog Lent Course and the learning that it requires will be that facet of my Lenten observance.
N - New: This is the 'take something on' aspect of the Lent thing. This year, and as part of the 'L' element, I will learn how to cook some new meals for my family, as I am the primary cook in the house. I learn, they enjoy, and it is an act of love that is directed in to my family, so therefore a good thing, methinks.
T - Time: All of the above is broadly pointless piffle if I don't add a little reflective time into this. Some valuable time has been gifted to us clergy in our Archdeaconry (thanks, by the way, appreciated). I commit to an hour more a week of reflective time. It isn't much, but believe me, it is 58 minutes more than I devote to it currently.
So, for me it will be (by the Grace of God) a LENT Lent. Even a potato like me will have trouble forgetting that. So, dear friends, as we step forward into another Lent, I invite you to think of ways to make it meaningful for you, especially if (like me) you will be buried under the duty (and joy) of providing Lent for others too!