Monday, February 22, 2010
I had never participated in the practice of Lent. I am not apposed. Rather I have been apathetic. But this spring I have been praying and reading much about Christ’s commitment to the poor and pondering what that really means for my family. So, in the context of the real needs of others and motivated by a honest spiritual desire to let God speak to me, I decided to relinquish to the Lord (for a season) two primary spaces that I usually fill with creature comforts, namely sugary snacks and movie rentals. I have been disappointed to find that in adulthood I still have the culinary palette of a junior higher and readily snap up ‘little treats’ wherever they are to be found. For forty days I committed, in earnest, to give God the chance to satisfy. And to remember, when I am tempted to rummage through cupboards, that other moms are also looking for food- for their children’s only meal that day. But already, in the first week, the road of Lent has already been paved with crumbs and evidence of my weakness.
During preschool today I took the baby to the doctor. Her commitment to growth and good health was rewarded with stabbing peeks at her eardrums and four vaccinations. Leaving the office with Peanut shaking and sniffling on my left hip, I looked at my watch. We had twenty minutes before preschool pick-up. That is enough time to start a load of laundry. It is also enough time to eat a cheese bagel and order hot chocolate from the coffee stand at Safeway. We agreed on plan B. As I walked to the counter to order the mid-morning yummies, Jiminy Cricket whispered in my ear, “Hot chocolate is a sugary snack.”
“Not true,” I shot back. “It is a beverage. And when made with soy it is full of antioxidants.”
So I ordered. Peanut and I smiled at each other and partook of our relatively inexpensive and harmless treats. No lightening bolts. Any potential guilt washed down with cancer-repelling isoflavones.
Home again, my preschoolers, covered in paint, talked over each other about the day’s discoveries as I made lunch and all was forgotten. I set the baby and her trusty blankie in the crib and padded downstairs to ride the stationary bike. I was looking forward to a few endorphins and some time to pray and read. I put in my favorite CD, clipped into the pedals, leaned over the handlebars and took a deep breath. Almost immediately an acidic tide bubbled up my throat, searing the back of my mouth. Twice. I was forced to swallow the sour evidence of my broken promise. My shoulders sagged under the weight of realization and disappointment. And then I heard the voice of Fernando Ortega. He said:
“Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts.
He is our great Redeemer.”
I closed my eyes and took a breath. Then I joined Mr. Ortega, truth and healing rolling out, past my soured tongue. As usual, my broken promises spoken in earnest and halitosis, the plaque-like build-up of my choices flavoring my song. But I sang anyway. Which is what Lent was intending to remind me. That God came near. Because of my great need.
“For he has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves in whom we have redemption…” Colossians 1:13-14