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Fasting for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert while being tempted by the devil in disguise is not easy to emulate but as one of the many Christian traditions that has spread widely into secular and everyday life, the keeping of Lent in some way, is good for the mind and body.
Whether for Lent or for any other varying length of time, it is good to exercise our control over the natural desire for instant gratification, but observing this in a specific way during a specified period that is widely recognised, makes it easier to focus the mind on such self-denial or penance.
For a number of times over the years I’ve stopped drinking alcohol for this period. I know many people who abstain totally from alcohol and in many ways I think they have the right idea. There is no doubt that drinking alcohol is bad for our health, it costs a fortune, it loses us many days of productive work and its knock-on effects are very expensive and damaging for society generally. However, for the time being my enjoyment of a good dram and also of the type of human interaction that can go with it continues to out-weigh the far more sensible option of long-term self-prohibition. Stopping for Lent is a good exercise and reminder that the choice can always be made, so again this year as they say in Glasgow, “A’m aff it!”
Coupled with staying off the deoch, I also decided to run five kilometres every day over the period. I’m keeping the time-frame simple and doing every day – no Sundays off – from Ash Wednesday, which was February 26, till Easter Sunday on April 12. The 46 days will amount to a total of 230 kilometres. This small endeavour combines three strands that all bind together to create the motivation to see it through. Firstly, it’s a good practice in self-discipline, secondly, it is good for long-term health and fitness, and thirdly and most importantly it gives me a chance for doing some fundraising for the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust.
Since Eilidh’s Trust was set up, we’ve done something each year to join them and assist with fundraising. Because of the timing of gigs this year, the Edinburgh and Manchester running events that they take part in are not going to be possible for me to join, so the 5k a day seemed a reasonable alternative to raise some money for them through sponsorship. My wife Ania and Eilidh’s Trust founders Iagan MacNeil and Suzanne White are also joining me in the 5k a day challenge.
Suzanne and the other trustees, and all who are involved in the trust put a huge amount of effort into keeping it going and over time it can be difficult to maintain the energy and support of others when so many people have already given generously. They’ve achieved greatly in raising the funds to erect a permanent memorial to Eilidh on Barra and are now doing wonderful work to encourage and support young musicians far and wide who will take Eilidh’s memory long into the future through the music of generations to come. They need and deserve as much continued support as possible.
So far I’m managing to struggle through the running and I’m just about to head out on my 14th 5k. There’s a good South-westerly gale blowing with accompanying lashing rain, so it is not going to be too pleasant!
If you would like to sponsor me, you can do so through a link on the Skipinnish website or my own Facebook page. All support will be very gratefully received.