Can we make do with less?
25 February 2019 IN: Bishop
As a young man, traveling in East Africa, I was deeply appreciative of the efforts of the poorest communities to protect me from local diseases. Everywhere I went, I was given fruit or cola drinks from bottles opened at my table. I'd been brought up never to waste food or drink, and was keen to show how much I valued the generosity of my hosts. For days, I made every effort to drink down to the last drop. Yet as soon as one bottle was empty, even if I still had a full glass before me, a new one would be opened. Eventually a friend explained that the signal to stop giving me more was to leave something, even a small amount, in the bottle.
The season of Lent, which begins this month, is also about knowing when we've got enough. We may choose to symbolise that by giving up entirely on some luxury, e.g. alcohol or meat, TV or social media. But maybe that should be just the visible tip of a spiritual discipline that is centred not on avoidance but reduction, making do with less across a whole range of things where our appetite exceeds our need. Six weeks of subjecting our habits of consumption to the challenge "Do I really need this much?", may do more for our journey with Jesus Christ than all those uneaten chocolates being stored up for Easter.