This is the Lenten season. For those of you who may not be familiar with Lent, it is the 40 day "season" before Easter when some of us give up something to show our humbleness. I've given up liver and onions, turtle soup, oysters (after I got food poisoning from a bad batch about 25 years ago), and food poisoning. Just kidding....kind of. Scripture tells us about how the serpent talked Eve into believing that eating from that one tree wouldn't really be bad, and she should go ahead and do it anyway, even though she was warned not to. She did, indeed, eat the fruit, and that is why men blame us for having to wear clothes. Okay, just kidding again....kind of (the "kind of", as I did get the side-eye from Dave a little bit when this scripture was read in church this morning). Scripture also tells us that we shouldn't whine and complain about giving up whatever we have chosen to give up (you know, like when offered a piece of chocolate, I shouldn't pitifully say, "I want to SO badly, but I can't because I gave up sweets for Lent"), and I probably shouldn't use my Lenten "fasting" as an excuse to tell the Girl Scouts "no" when they ask if I want to buy cookies. Just kidding....kind of. I mean....whoever dreamed up the idea to sell those morsels of goodness right when Lent is starting just has a tiny bit of evil in them, I think. Okay, really, now I am kidding.
What is truly tempting to me? As Father David talked about at our Episcopal church today, my temptation comes more from the ease it takes to get into INaction rather than the temptation to steal a candy bar (depending on the type of candy bar, I think). In other words, it is easier for me to say, "I am so sick of people throwing out trash on the side of these beautiful country roads" than it is to simply take a few minutes or even an hour to go pick up said trash. Why? I can make excuse after excuse for why I don't want to do the thing I really should be doing, but when I actually do it, it didn't take that much longer than my whining and complaining did. My best analogy to this is my daily prayer and meditation time. I get on my knees every morning (either nose to nose with two adorable Labs that are on the bed, wagging their tail in prayer or in a hotel room when I am traveling---by the way, that IS a bit of a sacrifice, as I am not altogether positive about how clean the carpets always are----but I digress) then I read two meditation books and talk to dear friends about the meditations for that day.....except when I don't. Getting into action sometimes means I have to do that action instead of making excuses for WHY I can't do it. Crazy, isn't it?
I am thinking that sometimes it is tempting to stay in the same spot rather than move forward in my faith walk, but Father David just told us this morning that standing still and being INactive is actually moving backward. Yup, you heard it here. In order to move forward, I need to actually act and do something, like pick up that trash on the side of the road (whining apparently doesn't count as "action", I've found out) instead of sitting and doing nothing about it. I need to pick up my meditation book, read it, and comment it on it, connecting with my sisters-in-Christ who are reading the same book versus saying I am too busy to read today.
Temptation is real, for me, to be sure. I am eternally grateful that I am at least aware of it rather than turning a blind eye to it. Temptation, for me, though, is not about the supposedly "big" things like murder, theft, or adultery (after all, have you all SEEN Dave? He's pretty darn cute)....it's about the little things that can start adding up to bigger things that I need to watch out for.
I am committed to giving time to educators in need of support during this Lenten season (and all the time, really), but that is a little selfish on my part as well, as it is work that doesn't feel like work most of the time but is rather something that soothes my soul.
I pray that each one of you finds the right balance of not being tempted to do the thing you know you shouldn't while also finding the thing that you know you need to do to get out of lethargy or inaction.
Last question....if I gave up sweets for Lent, I don't have to give up eating the banana bread that Dave is currently making, do I? That is a bread, not a "sweet", right? Yep, that's my life! I'm praying for yours, as well.