Lenten fasting is not a tradition that I’ve ever participated in. I never thought it held much for me. And yet, not ever having tried it, how exactly do I to know that? So this year, I’m in.
Thomas Merton in Seeking God In All Things says that fasting is not just about losing weight or toning our bodies (I could use some of both) in preparation for Easter. He says that as we bring our bodies into subjection, along with our spirit, our participation in Christ’s burial and resurrection becomes more tangible.
So, this Lent, in addition to participating in the church’s fasting regimen along with others, I have identified one particular food that I want to avoid. It’s a bit embarrassing to talk about…one of those guilty secret things…it’s a stupid…ok, it’s fat-free whipped cream…like Cool Whip?
There, I said it. There are some days when I just eat it right out of the container, standing in front of an open refrigerator. For me, it’s become one of those guilty pleasures. I know it’s mostly just high fructose corn syrup; that I’m often using whipped cream as a palate-moderator after a spicy meal (I’m not prepared to give spice up…yet); that often I’m just wanting a sugar hit.
I’ve come to crave just a couple of spoons full so potently each afternoon around 3:30 (must be a low sugar point of my day, or something) that, if I’ve run out of it, I will venture to the store for the sole purpose of buying more.
Well, as you can see, I would probably be more accurate if I just admitted that I want to unfasten this particular food’s hold on me. As basically harmless as this whipped cream probably is in the whole scheme of things (I really don’t eat a lot of it at any one time…she whines…and I’m not particularly overweight or unhealthy), it will be empowering to feel God’s aid and comfort in helping me control my physical body and this particular craving.
Even as I write this, I find the whole idea of giving this food up just a bit daunting. I’m going to forego it entirely at the bottom of each afternoon and replace it with water or maybe even something else sweet, but not the whipped cream. I might still have a small portion after dinner in the evenings. I’ve found in the past that moderation or reprogramming (with these types of sweets) can almost be more difficult than complete abstinence.
I’ll let you know how this goes. When I think about doing this on my own, I’ve truly not been certain I’m up to the challenge. But with God’s help, controlling my body and its cravings seems more possible.
What are your plans for Lent? Are you doing something special? How to you feel about fasting and denial during Lent? Talk to me!