Well, here we are, one week into Lent. For the past several years my Lenten fast has been alcohol related. I have alternatively abstained from beer and from alcohol altogether. As I considered my options I started taking stock of my life. What habits were starting to trouble me? What might God be calling me to change?
The answer didn’t take long. Whiskey (usually bourbon or rye) had become a nightly ritual. Just a few years ago it was a very occasional indulgence. Beer was my undisputed drink of choice. But since our trip down the Bourbon Trail in 2015 that after-dinner whiskey cemented its place in my nightly routine.
Unfortunately, along with that habit came a gradual increase in my consumption of alcohol. Especially when the whiskey isn’t getting measured out by the bartender it became all too easy to pour a double. Add high-proof varieties into the mix (one of my favorites, Old Weller Antique clocks in at 107 proof on up into barrel-strength whiskeys which tip the scales in the 130’s), and suddenly that “one” glass has the alcohol equivalent of one and half all the way up to three regular 80 proof drinks.
Just to keep things simple, I extended the fast to include all hard liquor, otherwise I’d be tempted to start substituting G&T’s or Armagnac which would defeat the whole purpose.
One week into Lent, I pleased to report that I’m doing OK. It’s been interesting to notice that when I am heading into the living room after cleaning up from dinner, my eyes are drawn inexorably upwards towards the liquor cabinet. While I miss it, the absence of whiskey isn’t causing me any existential crisis. And, as I hoped, it has cut down on my alcohol consumption. While I might choose to have a nice quad or Imperial Stout after dinner, I am certainly not temped to go back for seconds.
Of course I still have five more weeks to go and a lot can happen in that time. But I’m not losing any sleep over it. What will be really interesting is how I re-integrate whiskey back into my life once Christ is Risen. But for now, that’s a question for another day and another post.
What about you? Do you fast for Lent? If so, what do you give up? Have you ever fasted from alcohol? How did it go for you?