From festive to fat to...?

By Cath Taylor

Posted in Culture

Around the New Year, I was particularly struck by a particular image of three stick figures, which was gaining popularity across Facebook.

The first of the stick figures, wearing a jaunty Christmas hat and smiling, is captioned “1st-26th Dec: Festive.”

The second figure features a stick figure with a more neutral expression, holding a piece of cheese and captioned with “27th -31st Dec: Confused, full of cheese, unsure of the day of week.”

The third and final figure has a rotund stomach and an unsure expression, captioned “January etc.: Fat.”

Something about this image really resonated with me.

I certainly fell into the “Festive” camp on Christmas Day. But as I surveyed a mini-tsunami of wrapping paper after the gift-giving, I also found myself wondering, yet again, about excess and sloth. Even our cats (who move as little as possible under normal circumstances) hardly bothered to roll over between Christmas and New Year.

In the midst of all this, it’s pretty easy to lose the image of a child born in a backwater, growing up beside the poor and living out his call to share bread with strangers. Even more challenging is translating the sentimentality of the Christmas season into something solid and life-changing all year round.

So here we are in February, wondering where January went, and furiously attempting to keep track of New Year’s resolutions that probably involved at least one of the following: cutting back on excess, paying more attention to our inner lives and thinking more consistently of others.

Already, the season of Lent has arrived, having started on Wednesday 10 February. Typically, this is the time in the Christian calendar to reflect on our spiritual lives in a quest for growth, forgiveness and connection. These 40 days are a God-given opportunity to recalibrate our hearts, minds and spirits.

With this in mind, I’m planning to take up a challenge through UnitingWorld’s Lent Event – attempting to live simply, reflect more deeply on my faith and act to support people working hard to free themselves from poverty.

For me and my family, it’ll be a chance to start the year right by thinking about what we eat and why, including all the add-ons (snack foods, the occasional takeaway, including lunch at work, desserts, alcohol) and assess our reliance on technology. We’ll donate the money we would have spent on these things to a couple of projects creating change in the Pacific, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

We’ll also be aiming to spend time reflecting, meditating and praying, reading and learning about our faith, as well as the faith of our partners in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

I’m often amazed by how easy it is to see people in these parts of the world as “needy” and underestimate their creativity, spiritual depth and sheer courage.

These people include Charles, who recently told my colleague Steph that he wanted “many of you to come here, to Zimbabwe, to see what we have done and how happy we are!” He was referring to the small business he’s built with a number of others, breeding layer chickens and selling eggs at market. The profits are helping his family thrive in a part of the country so parched that without this income, Charles and his wife would be down to one meal a day.

Stories like this put our 40 days of simple living into stark perspective. But my hope is that as we take up this challenge, we’ll not only be contributing to the survival of Charles and his community, but that we’ll learn more about our God, our world and ourselves.

Eager to find out more about Lent Event? Or to access free resources such as the Lent Event app, all-age worship resources and activities, videos, and more? Visit or call (02) 8267 4267. Find out more about Lent Event in SA here.

More from Culture

Subscribe to receive Culture articles by email >


International Mission Update - A Light for Peace

The new 'normal’ that we have entered into can certainly bring changes to how we as a church undertake international mission. However, despite this challenge we encourage reflection on the importance of partnerships, solidarity for social justice issues and ecumenical sharing.


Celebrating Refugees Contributions to Society

A UnitingCare Emergency Relief Centre was needed in the Port Adelaide-Enfield area of Adelaide. And that's when Lefevre UC and volunteers from Port Adelaide UC stepped up.


The Art of Listening

A couple of years ago I was participating in a course which had a smattering of people from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) background. I would have said that they were good participants in class discussions but not the most active ones, and I gave little thought to it.


Comments (3)