To be very honest, I completely forgot about the Lent season this year. My head is elsewhere, following my heart as it bounces around between continents and tries to make sense of the journey.
Yesterday I was digging out some old essays for a new friend and came across this one. Allow me to share a Lent story from last year...
Fasting and Fried Eggs
So I’m doing this vegan thing as a fast for Lent. I guess that might not sound like much since I’m not a huge meat fan anyway, but I’m really big into cheese….and yoghurt…and butter. I really prefer tea with milk in it….even my Rooibos (Red Bush) tea. And I’m pretty much stuck with Rooibos right now as I’m trying to fast caffeine too.
I’m not a great faster. In fact, I don’t usually do fasting at all, unless it’s just from tea and coffee or something like that. Sometimes I fast from my favorite music, but I try to avoid fasting from food. I use the excuse that I have some kind of over-sensitivity to low blood sugar that makes it not worth my family’s while for me to be going without. I mean, if I put off a meal by ten or fifteen minutes, I’m already shaking. Byron knows when it’s coming on. I get an agitated look in my eyes and a decidedly grumpy tone in my voice. And my mind goes all hazy. We’ll be sitting in the office going over some important thing when it begins to set in.
“I know you’re hungry, Lees,” I hear him say through the gathering darkness,
“Stick with me just a few more minutes here. We’re almost done.”
So fasting is not really my forte. In fact, the only time I’ve ever really crashed the car properly was when I was trying to do a three day fast. Nobody was hurt, though my bank account was injured some.
But I’m doing this vegan thing in an effort to let my cravings rise to the surface in order to prompt me to pray. When I’m making Heather’s sandwich in the morning, slicing through that creamy chunk of good Portuguese cheese, I talk to God about the things I’m craving to see happen. I speak to him as I dollop the yoghurt into her bowl about things I long for.
I don’t know if it’s the fasting, but the other morning I woke up sharply aware of the disappointing shape of my heart. Somehow, as I was coming into full consciousness, I was flooded with grief over the lack of love that I let myself live with.
So I propped myself up on my pillows, longing for a cup of good strong tea with milk, and began reading 1 Corinthians 13. I read it through three times and made some notes about what was standing out to me.
But as I went on into my morning, the sadness of being such a looser when it comes to loving others remained my dominant mood.
And that’s when I started thinking about fried eggs.
Gosh, I love fried eggs! I pretty much love all eggs, but I really have a penchant for perfectly fried eggs. Especially if they have hot peppers sprinkled over them. Oh yea! I’ve got this amazing bread available here that is made of multiple grains. It toasts into these perfect slices of crisp, hot goodness that receive the applied butter perfectly. Then I spoon honey over their beautiful surfaces before dropping one spicy, gorgeously fried egg onto each piece.
Oh, I know. Sweet and savory mixed. My poor English friends would have a fit. They’re so uptight about mixing sweet and savory things! Good grief! Taste this! And get over it.
So I’m thinking about the eggs and I’m starting to crave them. The prayers start up fast and furiously.
But someone is interrupting me. In my bad mood and hungry state, I’m start hearing God say, “Make the eggs.” Of course I doubt that this is Him. I fight back with more prayer. The voice comes more clearly. “Make the eggs.”
Now I start arguing. I’m pretty sure this is my animal products-starved stomach saying to make the eggs, but if it IS God, I still think it’s a dumb idea.
But God insists. “Make the eggs!”
Finally I ask him what on earth he’s doing. Can’t he see I’m trying to fast FOR HIM? Can’t he see I’m denying myself for a noble purpose?
“And can’t you see I’m trying to love you?” God argued back. “I want to love you! I want to give you good gifts! I want you to enjoy my good love, provided in the form of two fried eggs.”
There I was, so keenly aware of my un-loveliness. There I was, so disappointed in my failure to live out the love of God. And there was God, pursuing me with a bouquet of flowers that looked uncommonly like breakfast.
I caved in. The toast popped up all glorious. The butter melted in and the honey glazed over just right. The eggs were exactly the way I like them: hot, covered in black and red peppers, with soft and slightly runny yokes.
I moved outside into the sunshine and ate my eggs. I smiled up at the sky and enjoyed God. In all my ugliness, I felt supremely loved.