I thought I’d try not eating in front of the television for Lent. I know, right? How difficult can that be? Jesus didn’t even have television; it’s giving up a luxury only momentarily each day.
I failed on the first try. Didn’t yet feel up to driving 35 minutes each way to go to church, although I could probably have found a closer service. Thinking I would feel good enough, I ate most of my calories at lunch, leaving only enough to have a glass of wine and a bowl of popcorn last night. Who can eat popcorn, sitting at the table and talking to another human bean?
Then I read Frederick Buechner’s Lenten post this morning, and I’m abashed even though it’s not easy to abash me. I especially felt the question about the last day of your life like a sharp stick in the eye as I sit here at computer and sit and sit.
When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?
If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?
Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?
Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?
To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sack-cloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.
You’ll notice neither television nor popcorn appears in any of the above.
I will try today, beginning with doing something for someone who can do me absolutely no good. And I will talk to actual people. Spring and Easter will come.