Lent is coming. I dread it every single year. I don’t dread the practice of fasting or the season Lent. In fact, I really dig it. The trouble comes in the fact that a)my family is picky and unaccustomed to the vegan thing and b)I’m a terrible cook. I need handlers. This is what I need. I need to be Oprah during long fasting periods. I could be awesome if I had Oprah’s staff, chefs and personal trainers and life coaches.
Sadly, I do not have those people on staff. I have cans of black beans and a strange inability to cook rice, even with a rice cooker. I’m not kidding. It’s a train wreck every single time.
I try new recipes and I buy cookbooks and get encouragement online and for that I’m thankful. There are a few sites around here that truly rock. I think you can find them in my blog roll on the right hand side there. Oh She Cooks, is especially good. But it’s the fear that gets me. It gets me every time I open a cookbook or stand in the produce aisle of the grocery store. It gets me when I’m boiling water, when I’m chopping carrots, when I’m serving what I imagine is something kind of awful to the cadre of hungry folks at the table. Probably I need to learn to be less self-conscious and perhaps grow a thicker skin where critique is concerned.
“I am not my cooking.”
During Lent I have a practice I’ve done for years, even long before I became Orthodox. I would choose a new focus and try to start doing something new and healthy along with my usual “giving up” of something. (That’s a Catholic thing…read about it here.) This “new” thing was often just a group of words, things I would tell myself to help bolster a healthy habit. One year I reminded myself every day that when I was angry I had a third choice outside of blowing up or eating the anger. So each time I felt angry I would try to consider what that third option would be. One day, it was pulling into a gas station and getting out of the car to count to 10 when my kids were arguing in the backseat. I felt the anger rise up in me and I thought about eating it and I thought about blowing up and then I pulled over and got out of the car. I stood there counting to 10 and I thought, “why am I angry?” Immediately I knew that it was because no one was listening to me and I was in charge. So I prayed a little and I swore a little and then I got back in the car. I was greeted with silence. The kids all stared at me and then one got the courage to ask why I did that. I told them the truth. I felt angry and I didn’t know what to do. I told them I gave myself a time out and I told them what I learned. Then we went and got ice cream.
This year my affirmation is this, “I am not my cooking.” I may have to write it down and tape it up it on my refrigerator door. I’m going to follow through with the fast. I’m going to cook a lot of really bad meals and yet I’m thinking I’ll get a few right as well. In any case, I am not my cooking and this Lenten fast is not so much about eating anyway. There are deep things at work here, strong new habits, moments grief and joy, hope and affirmation, black beans and rice, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.