I ran across a video one of my kids took on my iPhone last year at this time. I was in my Nashville kitchen putting away groceries, talking to someone about what they’d like for lunch at which point my husband said, “are you giving up dairy too?” I said, “yes, dairy, meat, eggs…” and he said, “for how long. I answered that the fast continued until Christmas but I wasn’t sure how long I could hold out. And then the video ended.
A year ago at this time I was attempting the Advent fast. I had only been attending the Orthodoxy classes for about a month or so. I wanted to do it right, do it well. I gave up that fast after a week I think. Party season and all.
My Lenten Fast was better, went longer. I nibbled here and there and then finally threw in the towel a week or so before Easter.
Each of those fasts I came at with a safety net. “I’m not chrismated yet. I have time.” This season I’m beginning to feel a sense of “always a catechumen, never a convert” overtake me with each meal. I’m nibbling around the edges of the fast already and it’s only a week into it.
And then I’m reminded that of course there is time. There is always time and I give myself some leeway. I nibble a little more. I pray a little more. I offer myself the grace I’m pretty sure God has for me. He’s like that. There’s time.
And then I get the phonecall from Miles (7) science teacher at the tutorial that he’s been using swear words in class and that he said to a teacher in a creepy voice, “I’m going to kill you.” And this throws grace out the window. The teacher was very nice. He totally understood that Miles has older siblings, that he has an active imagination. He even seemed to get it when I told him that Miles often acts out a fantasy that he’s really an alien that we adopted. He’s from a planet called “Freise” and they are warlike. He is not warlike he says, because we adopted him but he still has those tendencies, according to his accounts.
This brings me to some desperation. Although I don’t expect a conversion to Orthodoxy to cure him of his swearing or story telling (in some ways I hope he never stops the storytelling) I realize now how much help I need in all this. I realize now how much I relied on my foundation growing up Catholic, how much I still rely on it. I could use the help.
So yesterday after the phonecall I was making lunch. I’ve decided to try “juicing” each day instead of eating lunch as a part of my Advent fast. Miles saw me stuffing the beets into my juicer. He asked me, “Is this your fast?” and I answered that it was. He didn’t ask why I was fasting. I didn’t offer an explanation. Then as I lit the candles on my home altar he asked if he could light one and I said, “Of course.” I didn’t ask about his lighting. He didn’t offer an explanation.
There are these small moments and I don’t know what they mean or if they mean anything at all in the grand scheme of things. I only know that they happen and that I notice them, that I write them down and that I remember them because the fast is long but it’s what we do in the small moments that counts in my estimation. It’s in those small moments of holding fast that God shows up and meets us there.