Today’s Pancake Day. I hope you’re busy practising your flipping skills. My husband has a very cunning twist on the traditional pancake – he bathes a slice of white bread in pancake batter and fries that – it results in the most deliciously fat pancake!
The Christian custom of pancake making on Shrove Tuesday is to finish up rich foods like eggs, milk and sugar, before the traditional fast of Lent, which starts tomorrow. Like advent before Christmas, it’s a period of preparation for a feast day, and has traditionally been about giving up bad habits. At least for Lent, that is.
But rather than a test of your willpower where chocolate is concerned, Lent is supposed to be a workout for your soul. So how’s your soul doing, and would it pass its MOT? I’m not sure how much you think about your soul. It’s a funny sort of concept. We glibly talk about ‘soul-searching’ and ‘soul-mates’ and ‘soul-destroying’, but I’m not sure we think about what that means very much.
And maybe the soul is more important than we tend to think. For instance, there’s been a lot of talk recently about robots stealing our jobs. If you think about it, your soul is the one thing you have that no robot can take away from you, no matter how brilliantly programmed it is to copy your cognitive and emotional functioning. So maybe we should nurture our souls a little more.
I have a teenage niece. It’s quite extraordinary how much time she spends gazing at herself in the mirror. She’s very beautiful, so fair enough. But if the eyes really are the windows to the soul, maybe it would be helpful for us all to rediscover our inner teenager this Lent. I think most of us have a fairly perfunctory relationship with the mirror – just a quick check to make sure there’s no toothpaste or shaving foam left. But rather than regarding staring at ourselves as an act of vanity, stopping to look into our own eyes may tell us something important. And it may be that observing Lent in some way, by giving something up or taking something on, could be the beginning of us seeing ourselves in a different light.
I have been delivering “Thought For The Day” pieces on BBC Radio Scotland since November 2016. By kind permission these pieces are reproduced in blog posts here on my website. To find my other pieces click here go to my Thought For The Day index page.