Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Fat Tuesday

It's here again. The annual conundrum. What to "do" for Lent.

Now, as I've mentioned once or twice, I'm a pastor. As if this gives me some kind of advantage in approaching this annual conundrum. Ha! I say again, HA!!!

My mind does a little contradance. It goes something like this:

"For Lent I will give up all sugar and flour... No, wait. I have ulterior motives for that: I really want to lose weight, so I can't give up sugar and flour. Motives are too mixed. For Lent I'll read scripture and pray daily. But... well, aren't I supposed to be doing that every day anyway? (supposed, supposed, supposed...) I'll... write down everything I eat. I'll... go on Weight Watchers or the South Beach Diet or the Overeaters' Anonymous diet, and I'll... give it all to God. And if I'm really good, then by Easter Sunday I'll have lost... wait. No. Motives again. Not about God, about me..."

And so forth.

Lately I've been reading those books out of the Valparaiso project, and I simply love this quote:

"Christian practices are not activities we do to make something spiritual happen in
our lives. Nor are they duties we undertake to be obedient to God. Rather, they are
patterns of communal action that create openings in our lives where the grace, mercy,
and presence of God may be made known to us. They are places where the power of
God is experienced. In the end, these are not ultimately our practices but forms of
participation in the practice of God." ~Craig Dykstra

Now this makes sense to me... both in terms of everyday practice and in terms of the Lenten disciplines. We don't "do" things in hopes that we'll become more spiritual, better people.
(Well, we do, but we're wrong, aren't we?) We do things because we are spiritual people... enfleshed spirits, in-spired bodies. Already.

I think I do need to fashion a Lenten practice, this year, that will honor my body as a part of God's creation. I need to be co-creator with God of a new way of my being in the world... I need to find a way of caring for myself that takes this deep need of mine (to be more harmoniously attuned to my body, my health) seriously. Temple of the Holy Spirit. As they say.

Perhaps I'll begin the day with prayer and see where it takes me, every day.


more cows than people said...

Could it be, m'dear, that taking on a discipline that brings your body to better health, is a way of honoring God as God has gifted you with your body and a healthier body means more years for faithful service of God?

Just because you want to lose weight, that doesn't mean that is a poor lenten discipline. Nor that it is not about God.

more cows than people said...

praying every day though, good plan.

Doorman-Priest said...

I gave up being tolerant of vegetarians. You know how it goes: you invite a veggie friend round and go to some considerable lengths to respect their ethics in providing a nourishing meal. On the return match do they do the same. Are you offered a pork chop? Are you Hell as like? You get a nut cutlet.

Well the worm has turned.

Sorry...not in the spirit of Lent?



Cecilia said...

MoreCows, of course you are right on target!

Doorman-Priest, I laughed so hard I snorted. Excellent!

Jennifer said...

Cecilia, this is so well-timed. I grew up American Baptist--very low church, Lent-lite if you will. My family would take on extra visits to the nursing home, or picking up trash--something "do gooder" for the season. Now my own choices have changed. I am fasting today--not because anyone told me to, but because I do find fasting a meaningful way to bring my attention toward God, to make sacrifices, and most importantly, to create a big ole' open space inside that is miraculously filled by God. I'm reminded that I'm filling, filling, filling all the time--with work, food, friends, angst, etc., overlooking that the Spirit of God is there to fill, fill, fill. For the remainder of Lent I'm giving up sugar. I did this in solidarity with a family member awaiting a medical procedure, and the experience changed me profoundly....until I began eating it again. Ugh. But now I'm doing so once again, removing my dependence from sugar, placing it on God, thinking about what I do when emptiness appears within, and so on. Thanks for turning my mind to the meaning of my noisy, growling stomach!

LittleMary said...

something that honors your body. hmmmmmmm. well that has me thinking different now. thanks for this.

Cecilia said...

BTW, there is a book by this title-- Honoring the Body-- by Stephanie Paulsell. I own it. I will begin reading it.

Cecilia said...

Jennifer, blessings with this effort. MoreCows has recently done this... MoreCows, how's it going?

more cows than people said...

"Honoring the Body" by Stephanie Paulsell would be a PERFECT lenten read. It is lovely.

The no sugar thing, not a lenten discipline, but a new life commitment thing for me is going very, very well. I have had no sugar or corn syrup as significant ingredient items since January 2nd. So it has been well over a month now! I have allowed myself trace amounts in sauces, or pure cane as a sixth or seventh ingredient in chai at a coffee house. I've also continued to allow wheat flour pretty regularly. I just need to focus on this major change now. But... compared to my previous consumption- I'm totally abstaining. I even avoided sugar substitutes for awhile, allowing only natural sugars- fruit, etc. But lately I'll take a diet soda occasionally (several at the super bowl party I went too- hey- I didn't touch either cake!)

I have found myself free from cravings and have had other surprising and positive physical circumstances that may or may not be related to getting sugar out.

It has been hard at times. I miss it. I wanted the canoli at the final dinner at my school visit last week. But... the canoli would have been the start of a slippery slope for me. I wish this were not the nature of my relationship to sugar, but it is.

Thanks for asking.

Blessings, Jennifer on this lenten choice.

And Doorman-Priest- hysterical!!

Love you, Cecilia.

Jane R said...

Stephanie Paulsell's book is wonderful. I think you will find it very nourishing, and I do use the word intentionally! Honoring the body sounds like the perfect Lenten practice for you. Many blessings. Remember how precious you are, and how much Godde loves you.

Kate said...

Two years ago, on March 1, I became a vegan for Lent. Thing is, I liked it a lot, and on Sundays, when I could eat chicken (for example) because it's a feast day, I found myself putting my piece back, and getting tofu out of the fridge. And stayed vegan most of the year.

On January 22nd last year, I started using a food plan that's been used in Overeaters Anonymous for many years (although, Cecelia, there is no Overeaters Anonymous diet). My motivation was poor blood sugar control -- I prayed and prayed, and kept hear The Voice say, "Why wouldn't you do something that would make you better?"

I pray, and turned over my will and my life, and my food. I eat fruit and protein for breakfast, and protein, cooked low-carb veggies and salad for lunch and supper. I weigh and measure everything. That's because God's granted me an insulin-free life since the day I started the plan, and a pill-free life almost daily, since mid-September. And a body that weighs 133 pounds, at 5'2". I weighed more than THAT when I was 15. Somehow, I just keep willing to do what God wants of me, honouring my body and God's gifts, and God keeps letting me eat this way and be happy about it.