Giving something up is thematic for many people across Christian tradition during the Lenten season. Yet for me, giving up has been less of my focus over the years. Traditionally, I have been more likely to add a spiritual practice during the season of Lent rather than take something away. And I now realize how much I have added over the years and how "doing it all" often blurs my ability to open my heart and soul. Let's be honest, fasting is hard.
Yet sometimes we need to strip away, let go, fast. Recently I have been in a season of "letting go" in regards to my sugar addiction. I now have a new perspective on giving up and am embracing it in the kitchen. I've been on a whole foods (Whole30) plan for the past several weeks that has stripped away many of the unnecessary extras that cause my body to experience brain fog, fatigue, and anxiety. It has taken several weeks to see the fruits of my work but my body (and my soul) are thanking me for the new found clarity. And I must admit, it has taken me two rounds of this process to truly find the beauty in the letting go of my beloved sugar for a season!
I read the poem below this morning and in my reflection realized quickly that as I've let go of the extra sweeteners and not-so-natural flavorings (as well as the junk I had been feeding my body) my tastebuds can truly experience the flavor of food in new ways. We chew, we eat, we swallow. But, do we take the time to truly savor and taste? If we did, how could that change us? When we fast (not simply from food) we are invited to taste/feel/experience more deeply.
The poem is from St. Catherine of Siena, a Dominican nun, mystic and poet from Italy, who lived from 1347-1380. Her words speak to me on this journey of wellness, they remind me that God gave us the gift of food as more than nourishment, that we can see God in all things/people/situations, that our hearts and souls really do need to be fed. I hope her words offer your heart encouragement as well this Lenten season.
How will you feed your soul this season? How could "giving up" actually give your heart more strength? Are you letting go of any specific foods or activities for Lent? How are you hoping to taste, smell, experience God?
Give the Heart More Strength
(from Love Poems from God)
Herbs can help the body and give
the heart more strength
When my sight became clearer,
I could see auras around different foods.
and I now know — should I say this? --
that everything can sing.
The songs of fruits and grains will calm,
why not put them into yourself,
a new language you
And just from touching life’s requirements
close to their source
will add grace to your
More generous eyes we need.
The songs of light
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC