The memory of tonight's homemade macaroni and cheese lingers.
Made by my husband's hands with the guidance of a capable recipe, it met me after my Monday evening workout with all the comfort and satisfaction it promised. I was looking forward to this meal. It didn't disappoint. Thirteen days without meat and I'm at the threshold of walking away from it for good.
That's not the point of this fast. However, as I daily engage it I continue to question what its point exactly is. My understanding of Lent was enriched through some of my weekend reading.
During Lent, death gives way to life, just as it does in the change of seasons.
A part of Lent is death. That's the giving up. Last Sunday I made sausage. Sundays are a traditional day off from the fast. Our boys are enjoying that little break and I wondered if I should break my fast too. My husband said, "Not for me." And where he goes I will go. It's easy to make succulent meals without the meat. I haven't missed it. I wanted to do some missing. I made two sausages for myself, I thanked God for it, for the day of grace and feasting. And I gave my share to my boys. I needed to feel a little of the death -- to intentionally go without.
The fast was a way to ritualize and enter into the death of Christ, with the hopes of sharing in the resurrection...
There is joy yet to come in this season. In me. In the world. We daily step forward into it. But for all of us, our death is present even at our birth. All life is joy and sorrow; not one without the other. In this season, I am attempting to invite a bit more of the sorrow. But I can't keep from focusing so much more on the joy -- like reading a story when I already know the ending. To this point, the true practice of penance is still quite lost on me.
For me this fast is a joyful tension. I'm happy to give up, happy to work around, happy to find another route to nourishment. The challenge itself makes me happy. How carnal of me to actually enjoy Lent. Yet, each time I prepare a meal I sense the brokenness of it. It is incomplete and still it's the best it can be. The meals without meat reflect who I am; broken and longing for a day to be made whole. Knowing the joy will come... is coming. I cannot completely grieve. Yet I cannot completely rejoice. This is the joyful tension of Lent.
...the practice of penance is a way to ritually experience in our own lives the self-emptying of Christ.
He gave himself up for us. The fast doesn't truly make me more like him. It's a tawdry attempt at best. But as I continue to push into this meager sacrifice I can more intimately connect with the ultimate one given as grace on my behalf.
Thanks be to God.