I’ve had several trains of thought the last while and it seems as though they may all have something in common. Often as I write, I’m discovering what I think about something in particular as I go, so today I’m inviting you to join me on that path of discovery. Maybe we’ll only find a few reflections, and probably nothing too profound, but if nothing else, hopefully we’ll find a few nuggets we can take with us on the road to spring and new life.
As I think back over this very unusual and old-fashioned, for-real winter and as I realize how completely desperate I am for spring, I have to wonder if it shouldn’t be a reminder of how desperately hungry we ought to be for God. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so, so ready for spring and green grass and sunshine and purple crocuses popping out of the ground overnight and red-breasted robins, and somehow I have a hunch that I’m not alone. I think we can safely assume that most of us are 100% way-past-ready for spring, and when it finally shows up, we are going to be ecstatic. So my thought is, what would it take for us to be that desperate for God? And I already don’t like where that question takes me. Because when something seems far away and beyond our reach, isn’t that part of what makes us desperate for it? So is that what it takes, for God to take us through a deep dark valley where we’re not sure if He’s there or not? I don’t think I have the answer to that, but maybe we could ponder that for a while.
And then there is this Lenten season which is suddenly upon us. I’ve never really observed Lent in any meaningful way before, so this year I’ve decided to try something new. Earlier this year I found a Bible reading plan that takes one through the Gospels from Christmas to Easter, reading through the life of Christ beginning at His birth and culminating with the Resurrection at Easter. I thought it would be a meaningful way to take our family through the dark days of winter, and we have enjoyed it. We haven’t been able to get the readings done every day, but then we’ll double them up to try to stay somewhat on track. The other idea I had was to pick something to give up. Now I know many people give up chocolate or coffee or sweets or bread or exercising (just kidding!), but I decided to pick something that I’ve felt like I needed to do for a while anyway, and this seemed as good a time as any. So for Lent, I have given up grocery shopping. Now before you jump to all kinds of conclusions about how much we’re going to suffer for the next 40 days, let me just tell you that our pantry and freezer are ridiculously full. I just thought this would force me to take what I already have and use it up, instead of going out and buying what we would rather have. So we will be getting creative with what’s here and honestly, what scares me most about the prospect is that I’ll have to figure out what to do with this stuff. My family will not take very kindly to too much of the same things over and over (although when they complain about that I like to remind them that most people in the world have about three options total in any given month about what they are going to eat, so I don’t want to hear it), so I think this whole experience will be a matter of pretty major discipline for me and probably for the rest of my family by the time we get to Easter. All that to say, I want to do this because I know I tend to stop by the store for easy meals, comfort food and what I want more than what is good for me.
The other aspect of this is that I am trying very much not to be wasteful – at all. I have this paper in my kitchen, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I throw out any food, I have to write it on that paper. This exercise is extremely painful, because it puts right in front of my eyes exactly all the food that goes to waste because I wasn’t disciplined enough to figure out a way to use it or because we were simply tired of eating that particular dish. (This is getting more painful to write by the minute.) And, the one other thing that we’re trying to do is to eat as cleanly as possible. By that I mean, we are going to try to eat as little processed food as we can. We’ve already been trying to cut back on waste and processed foods, so the only thing I’m really adding for Lent is the “use what we have” part.
All that to say,as we make our way through this Lenten journey, I’d like to invite you to join us, either to be inspired or to be challenged, or just to spy on how well or not-well we’re doing and so you can be secretly happy you were not foolish enough to do anything like this, because we’re coming up on Easter after all and there are peeps and chocolate and marshmallow eggs to be had. Yeah, about that – we’re open to donations, and dinner invitations. I don’t think that counts as grocery shopping. No, really, I’m kidding. We’ll be fine – but we will be really ready for spring! Sooner or later, I’ll report back with how it’s going – or not.
We believe – and we HOPE for spring! It’s never before stayed winter forever.
How are you observing Lent this year? We’d love to hear from you.