Saturday, March 1, 2014

Almost Lent: Preparing for the Discipline (and a little whining)

First, my whine: 

Cadbury creme eggs.  I ONLY eat them during Lent.  From Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday, and ONLY then, I would consume a lovely Cadbury creme egg whenever the fancy struck.  And I loved them.

Until this year.  They have milk in them.  No Cadbury creme eggs for their #1 fan.  I'm pretty sure the Cadbury bunny is crying for me.

I keep hoping that maybe the dairy allergy diagnosis was a mistake, and maybe it was just a misdiagnosis of GI issues.  Then I would get Cadbury eggs and ice creme back.

Secondary whine (bonus whine! yeah!): 

I'm on antibiotics.  For two solid weeks.  You know what you can't do while on antibiotics?  Have a delightful grown-up beverage.  I'm a pretty moderate drinker anyway, but at the moment, I'm abstaining pretty carefully.  (OK, I have a sip or two of M's at times.) I hate being a responsible patient.

Lent approaches- PANCAKES!: 

How excited am I?  You know when Kermit the frog gets excited and flaps his arms all about?  That's me.

Lent starts on Wednesday.  Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday, AKA Mardi Gras.  Throw a party, please!  I will be eating pancakes.  I'm not sure what spiritual or liturgical tradition the pancakes have (perhaps it was something to do with using up all the fat and other goodies in the house?), but I do know: breakfast for dinner, yes please!

Call me a geek, but I do love a good church supper.  As wee acolyte in my hometown, I was a food server.  Pancake suppers might be my ultimate favorite church supper ever.  It's the community, and the getting to talk to people, and the burning of palms, but it's also the down-hominess of something simple like pancakes.  I've never missed a pancake supper- not in England, not in college, not while a chaplain.  34 years and counting, perfect attendance.

When I achieve my life's dream of dying during Lent, passing cheerfully away between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday (so I can break all the liturgical rules and have an Easter service during Lent!), I expect the priest to mention that in my funeral homily.  "Well, Betsy was certainly a… ahem, frankly boring… priest.  Wrote no great books, did no real scholarship, and flitted about with the attention of a fruit fly, but she had perfect attendance at Pancake Suppers."  

Of course, in signs-of-the-times news, our pancakes this year will include a gluten free and a dairy free option, cooked in separate pans, away from the regular killer pancakes that will be cooked with delicious delicious butter.


M and I have been talking about the spiritual side of the discipline we are doing.  It's taken some convincing to get him to see this as a spiritual endeavor for me.  He understood that I wanted to explore and work on my impatience and tendency to be swift to anger, but he insisted it was a psychological thing.  I think it's really a spiritual thing- our spirituality is intrinsically tied up into our psychology.  I think our spirituality affects our psychological resilience and our outlook.  Cooking with my spouse will force me to confront my impatience and anger.  So if my spiritual life is angry, my psychological life will be short tempered, as well.

And I was angry with God for a long time.  During the Year M Was Away, I had an ongoing conversation with friends in Oregon, who each week wanted to know if I was still mad at Jesus.  Answers ranged from "Sort of" to "Yep, totally pissed!"  With all the stress in our lives last year, I was pretty angry that God could lead me out to a glorious place like Oregon, and then not let me keep it.

As I settle back into VA, it's like pulling out an old quilt that's been packed away in the attic.  Our families are happier.  We've already had a few situations where being close proved to be the right choice.  And the parish I'm serving is a really cool, delightful place (that'll be hiring later this year, in case any of you are Episcopal clergy in search!).  It's a comfortable quilt where I know every hole and stain and moth-eaten spot and I love it anyway.

When I think of Oregon, it's the people I miss with deep piercing pangs- my women's group, my dinner friends, my bike tribe.  I miss going to the ocean, running on the dunes, and being able to snowshoe with my best Oregon friends.  I miss being able to get into the woods for a mental health break.  I make a soup, and I remember as if it were a minute ago the first person I made it for and the dinner we shared.  Tysons Corner is like a desert- trees wrangled to within an inch of their lives and dirty snow and road salt everywhere.  I deeply miss my green.  I have to drive most places.  None of my friends live IN Tysons Corner (even though lots of them live nearby.  They all have more sense than to live IN Tysons!)  But when I roll over at night and the bed isn't cold, and I see how happy M is here, I think it's worth it all.

Interestingly, we had a trip to Fredericksburg (where we lived briefly when we were first married) and there were the trees and the green everywhere.  VA does have the ocean and the outdoors… just not around my current apartment.

So yes, I'm happy to be back in Virginia.  Yes, I'm grieving the loss of Oregon.  Yes, I am so, so thankful for Skype, Facebook, and picture texting to stay in touch with friends.  And no, I'm not angry with Jesus anymore.  I'm trying to understand why this all happened as it did.  What am I supposed to be learning or doing or being?  Why did the call come now, to come home to Virginia?  I'm trying to listen.

And that's why a discipline like bread baking and making our own flour is spiritual: because perhaps, in learning how to be gentler and more patient with my spouse as he learns, I'll learn to open my own heart and mind to learning and listening as well.  And maybe some of that patience will roll over into the relationship I've got with the Great Above, and perhaps somewhere, that still small voice will explain to me all that has happened and why it happened as it did.

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