THIS is the time of year when the Christian Church takes up the theme with its season of Lent. The word derives from the old English word for spring and so Lent speaks to us of rediscovering the beauty of who we truly are!

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving have been the traditional exercises for this season and, while they seem somewhat daunting, they just might just prove to be the way out of our ‘winter of discontent’.

We live so often pretending to be someone different to the person we know we truly are.

In moments of prayer we stand before the God we believe in and there is no hiding place. He looks at us with the eyes of truth because he knows all that has gone into our making.

We might as well accept the truth and the truth is far more beautiful than the pretence. And God looks at us with the eyes of love because he has created us simply to love us and sees the beauty that we often hide. Many today find it hard to love themselves, but in this moment of truth we can learn to love ourselves because we see how eminently lovable we are.

Fasting from food can be good for us and certainly help us get rid of that surplus weight, but perhaps more important is to fast from those moments of cynicism, negativity, criticism, from those times when we are tempted to banish from our lives all that we hold most dear, and that is love. These are moments when we become someone who is not our true self and we deprive ourselves of the joy of who we truly are. Fasting from these brings that instant ‘feel good’ factor.

It is good to give alms as we share our material goods with those less fortunate than ourselves, but we are made of deeper stuff than that. To give our friendship, companionship, support, affirmation, gentleness or compassion to others might bring them and us far more lasting joys.

When we give these things we realise that the more we give, the more we have to give.

These aids to life are tried and tested over many centuries and have brought many to celebrate Easter with fresh hearts and a more lively step.