Friday, March 27, 2015

Lent is Hard

My daughter came home from a half day and looked at lunch with disgust.  She normally loves tuna salad. I gave her a look and asked,  "What's up?"

"Lent is hard." she declared.  She'd done the water project where you pay a quarter if you drink something other than water every time.  I'm guessing now that we're a week from Easter, the project's appeal had grown old, and I'm guessing, she'd run out of quarters.  

No one likes going into the desert, finding their flaws dotting the landscape of the soul like painful cacti.  We' much rather float in an ocean and skim along the surface, but the goal as C.S. Lewis said, is to go "deeper and deeper in."

Maybe it was the fasting that led me to think of how we like syrup on pancakes, icing on frosting, the crispy skin of chicken, but these things alone, tasty as they may be, lack substance without the food they coat.  We need to get to the meat of things, to the marrow, and for that, we must cease staying where everything is sweet and easy.  

She began making brownies.  No one in the family gave up sweets so I let her go about the business of making them.  It's a fun project and it allowed me to just be with her as she became less irritated about drinking water, and more focused on creating something good.  That's what Lent is for, the sacrifice of meat or milk, money or caffeine isn't so we'll spend all our energies noting we gave that up, we miss it, we can't have it, but so we stop going through our spiritual life mindlessly, and get on with the work of creating something better with our time and our selves.  

By the time we cleaned up, her mood changed.  She plinked a quarter in the box and poured a glass of milk to have with her brownies.  The other children came in and pounced on the treat, and when it was finished, she felt the satisfaction of their praise and her own cooking.   The discomfort of not having what she wanted, turned into something better when she stopped focusing on it, and instead, turned outward.  

After helping her clean up, I looked at the pan of brownies, still half of them remained. Today is Friday, a fasting and abstinence day.  They were tasty walnut brownies with a touch of cherry to the batter.  Delicious.  I want more.  Walking away to the computer, I've come full circle as my brain begs for another brownie with the phrase echoing in my head, "Lent is hard."

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