Why We Need
By HEATHER JOSE
Ahhhh, here it is again—the time for me to feel guilty because I don’t follow through. In other words: It’s Lent.
In my defense, I wasn’t raised participating in Lent. My Baptist church was much more focused on the fact that Jesus was going to rise again than any ritual of deprivation. However, over time and a few different congregations that we have called home, I am much more familiar with the Lenten season. This year, my church began a bit early. In February we were asked to consider one day of fasting and prayer each week. For a mere 24 hours could we (if we were healthy enough to do so) refrain from solid food and consider the needs of our church, our community and our world in prayer.
Yes, I thought, I am in! I can’t wait! This will be so good for me. When Wednesday rolled around I was ready. I ate breakfast and admittedly, an early lunch, since the fast was to start at noon. I rolled through the day feeling good about myself. I pulled up the Bible on my iPad and spent some time reading and reflecting that night. By the time noon came on Thursday, I decided that was so easy that I would continue to add items to fast from as the month progressed. Maybe next week it would be TV, and after that computers as well. In fact if I kept it up I would be living a perfectly monkish life by Easter.
Then it happened. My mother-in-law passed away that Friday after a short illness. We were in the midst of grief and tears. Over the course of the next week, we were amazed by the kindness of so many people as they reached out to our family. We spent more time together as an extended family than we had in years. We planned the funeral, spent time looking at pictures, took care of the little things that still had to be done, and finally made it through the visitation and funeral.
By the time we returned home to our house late Tuesday night we were exhausted. We wanted nothing more than to sleep in our own beds and find our routine again. As I turned down the lights and passed through the kitchen I opened the refrigerator door. There on the middle shelf sat a beautifully made lasagna, a loaf of rustic bread, and a note that read: “350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.”
The next morning, as I left for work, I psyched myself up for fasting. I was prepared to do it. However, as the day went on I found that all I could think about was making that lasagna for dinner. By the end of the day I called my husband and said, “I’m making dinner tonight.”
I needed that dinner. I needed to sit at my table with my family. To hold hands and pray before eating and to hear the incidentals of the day. By the time dinner was over it felt as though things might be okay.
I haven’t fasted since. I am not opposed to the idea, I just haven’t gotten back there yet. I have seen and felt God in a million other ways through others. I think He would be okay with that this Lenten season.
And there’s always next year.
Care to read more from Heather Jose?
Heather Jose is the author of the book Letters to Sydney: Every Day I am Killing Cancer, co-author of The Healing Agreement—and a contributing writer for the Breast Cancer Wellness Magazine, Coping Magazine and Thrive. Not long ago, she wrote a week-long series about the challenges of caregiving in America. This link takes you to the first of her five stories in that series.
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Originally published at www.ReadTheSpirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.