Sunday, February 18, 2007

First Day of Lent

Today is the first day of Lent for the Orthodox faithful. We get started a little earlier than the Western church. As per usual I'm unprepared, but I'm just going with God, come what may.

I know I could choose to simply start small. Itty witty bitty steps like I'm doing with the Bible reading and prayer disciplines, but I have the support of the entire Eastern Orthodox church. We do this together. And we mostly do this the same. We give up meat and dairy products. That's what our Lenten fast looks like. I'd like to think if the church isn't with me the saints are, and if all the saints aren't with me, my patron saint, Mary of Egypt is, and if she isn't Jesus certainly fasted on less than no meat and dairy. And how God the Father must have felt when He fasted and gave up His Son for us.

I was reading about fasting last night, and read that one way to think of it is to consider God more important than food. I haven't let much be more important than food for a long time, and my body shows it. But I just want to try. For a number of reasons, my heart is just wide open and soft, and right now I want God more than anything. So, in the face of almost certain failure, I will put legumes, veggies, and tofu in the cart instead of meat. I'll drink more water, soy milk and juice instead of milk. I'll look at labels to see if what I'm consumning has eggs, milk, or cheese. It seems like a lot of work. But most of all, I'll try not to think about giving up anything. I'll try to think of making God a little more important. It's not like I can't eat at all! Maybe when I've had tofu stir-fry AGAIN! when my hubby is chowing down on burgers, or I'm am staring ruefully at the powdered "Nature Burger" left over from last Lent's failure which I hope is still good, instead of thinking of what I can't have, maybe I'll remember what I do have:

A God who is important.
A Savior whose sacrifice it is time to remember.
A heart that needs to be filled, instead of a tummy.
A mind that needs to be emptied of so much garbage along with my atrocious diet in order to feast on His word.
And the need to keep things far more simple than I do.

What if these simple foods change my life? My health? My way?

He said He was the Bread of Life. He's been my Lover, but how often have I truly let Him be my Feast? I haven't even been in church lately to feast upon His body and blood there. How often have I come to Him with my real, physical hunger? My doctor hasn't told me to cut down on the Bread of Life. I've never stuffed myself on Jesus until I was sick and lethargic. I want to let this be a quiet, soft Lenten season of real seeking, and real finding my soul's food. I want God to surprise me.

May you partake of love and grace.

"I am the bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:25)TNIV


Bek said...

sounds like all of heaven is behind you. as you stuff yourself on Jesus. and drink of His life-giving water, and are sure to never thirst again. blessings on your fast....i'm fasting too.

Shanna said...

I went to church again tonight. It was good. Simple, and good.

I feel a new beginning before me, too. Perhaps I'll know more about it on the other side of Easter.


Heidi Renee said...

oh my, all of my orthodox family does not abide with you - you are a brave faster!

here are some things that might not make you feel like you're fasting:

*hummus with lots of garlic (dipped with whole wheat pita sliced into little triangles is SO YUMMY)

*baba ghanoush - roasted eggplant dip - divineeeeee!! also amazing on pita points!!

*avocados - they are majorly in season right now and like eating frosting out of the can! (this from a woman who hasn't done that in 1 1/2 years)

*fresh strawberries - this is how i get by in the winter months - i justify the expense (because they are usually well priced right now because of the hothouses) and i'm not filling my cart with junk food - especially meat.

*vanilla soy milk - it's like a milkshake - yummy!

good luck woman - brave, brave woman!! you can do it!