Sophia White, who is based in the diocese of Southwark, is on a gap year with CAFOD. She is sharing with us what Lent is for her and why she will take on the 10,000 steps challenge.
Lent is traditionally a season of fasting, prayer and penitence in preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is a season which is very dear to my heart.
A lent journey : from conversion to Walking for Water
For Lent 2018, I travelled across the United States in a journey which ultimately led to me being received into the Catholic Church on Pentecost that year. I then moved to Dublin to study theology, and much of Lent 2019 was spent writing essays and grieving the sudden death of a childhood friend. Lent 2020 was Lent in Lockdown 1, and we could argue that last year’s Lent is the longest 40 days of our lives.
My hope is that Lent 2021 will be less of a rollercoaster than these previous years. Along with many of CAFOD’s supporters, I will be joining in with the 10,000 steps-per-day Walk for Water, and on Divine Mercy Sunday I will be celebrating my new-found fitness by running the Royal Parks Virtual Half Marathon. I’m fortunate to live in the countryside, where the beauty of the landscape has the added bonus of making social distancing exceptionally easy.
Many of my friends are not Christian, though they join in with Lent as it’s good for your health to give up chocolate and the like for forty days. They ask me what giving up chocolate – or taking up running – has to do with faith and religion. The short answer is ‘to make more room for God in one’s life’, and the longer answer is that I don’t just give up chocolate or take up walking; I also set more time aside for prayer, follow a Lenten reading plan, pray Stations of the Cross with CAFOD. By this point, I have usually lost my audience and left myself wondering whether my laundry list of Lenten practices is bringing me any closer to God after all.
Perspective for lent : Jesus the living Water
We are told that the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and that the second is to love your neighbour as yourself (cf. Mark 12:30-31). When I first heard that CAFOD’s Lent campaign this year was Walk for Water, I (good former Theology student that I am) immediately went to John 4 and read the story of the woman at the well – in which Jesus tells the woman that He has living water and tells her everything that she has ever done. I then really thought about the fact that some of our brothers and sisters across the world have to walk ten hours a day to get water, that most basic of our human needs. And it broke my heart.
Watch and listen to Abdela’ story who walks 10 hours to get water
A lent Walk for Water in solidarity and prayer
Since September, I have been volunteering in CAFOD’s education section as part of their Step Into the Gap programme. The pandemic and various political strifes across the world this past year have made it particularly easy to focus on what is wrong in the world, and these problems can seem overwhelming and insurmountable.
Working at CAFOD has shown me that there is much hope and goodness in the world, and the knowledge of this hope and goodness brings makes us see the problems of the world with greater clarity. Is it just that some communities, due to environmental factors and poverty, have to walk for ten hours a day to get water? No. Can anything be done to change this? Yes!
And so we return to my earlier statement. This Lent I will be taking part in CAFOD’s Walk for Water in solidarity with those who have to walk ten hours per day for water. And I will pray. I will pray for CAFOD, our supporters, and the communities that we work with, knowing that many others are doing the same. Finally, I will try to listen: to God, to the cry of the earth, and the cry of the poor, in the expectant hope that after the Crucifixion comes the Resurrection.
Sponsor Sophia on her Walk for Water : https://justgiving.com/fundraising/sophiamwhite