I was talking to Adam yesterday on the drive from the Fort to home for quite a while. More than an hour I think, so we hit quite a few topics. Honestly, it may have been one of our coolest conversations yet. He was utterly transparent with me and asked my thoughts in multiple areas. It was the kind of conversation I was hoping we would be able to have for a long time now. A true sibling to sibling conversation.
One of the topics we hit on was Lent. I really didn’t need to give it much thought this year, as far as what I am going to do. I am going to cut down coffee to 3x a week only, and I am going to pray the Rosary every day. I want to know Mary more intimately, have a heart as available, motherly, gentle and devoted as her’s to her Son. I told Adam he should do the coffee thing with me. I know how much I enjoy coffee, and I know he enjoys it greater still. He is your son after all. I gave him my reasoning to see if he would buy in. Pretty simple. I am too attached to coffee. It has more say in my decisions and more pull on my will than it ought to have. There is nothing wrong with enjoying it. However, it takes a bit of self-awareness to determine when things cross over from enjoyment to need or dependence. I don’t want any need or dependence on anything outside of my loving Father. Adam said it best. He told me when he lays his head down to go to sleep at night, he is looking forward to the morning for a cup of coffee. I cannot say this is me every night, but I do admit it crosses my mind. I almost have him on board at this point.
He says he would rather just cut it out altogether to see what happens as far as his health and how his body feels. I considered cutting it out totally. There are a couple reasons why I decided on keeping a few days to have it. The first is I think it is harder to have a little of something. To nibble or to sip. For me, it takes more self-discipline to get a taste and say enough than to decide not to have any at all. The second is, I find great value in going to a coffee shop to write or meet with someone. The environment is limited with distractions and seems to be fertile soil for putting thoughts together. For meeting with someone, the truth is, not only am I a bit picky when it comes to restaurants, but coffee/tea is also cheaper. Thus, allowing coffee three days strikes a good balance I believe. Sold.
However, when he mentioned why he would rather cut it out totally, something else important occurred to me. This is Lent we are talking about, not a diet. It is not about using the structure of the six weeks or forty days to see what happens or to see if you can make it without whatever it is you decide to fast from. Lent is not a version of the Whole30. The Whole30 is an elimination diet aimed at identifying food sensitivities and changing habits. I think it is totally a win if one’s relationship to food changes through the program. I also think one sells the program short if it is just for weight loss. I have not done it nor do I plan on doing it. I see the value of the Whole30 beyond eating better, but I am still not an advocate personally. I know my mindset would be “it’s just thirty days, I can get through it for thirty days.” My concern would be start to finish for the most part. This is not the lens we want to view Lent through. Lent is about seeking the Lord through prayer and reading the Word, getting to know the Lamb of God, getting more intimate with the crucifixion of Jesus. In the wilderness, after Jesus had been there for forty days, the Devil tempts Him through His hunger. Jesus responds, “Man does not live by bread alone” (Mt. 4:4).
This is the choice we are confronted with during the Lenten season. What appetite are we feeding? Bread alone? Or the Bread of Life? The Whole30 diet is only whole foods. The forty days of Lent is whole hearts and minds. The ongoing conversion of hearts and minds by a diet of the Bread of Life, Jesus the Christ.
Guilty of it as well, I reminded myself and Adam that we sell Lent short if we use it only as an elimination diet, drastically short. The road to the cross is the way of holiness, paved with immense love and mercy for us to share in. Let us fully immerse ourselves in the whole forty days to follow Jesus and share in His holiness. The wHOL[E] fORTY.
PS_ check out the article below on a reflection of fasting. Quite compelling.