Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pilgrim and Papa

The kids and I just watched the coverage of Benedict XVI's resignation from the papacy.  Gosh, how hard this is.  You don't expect that a pope will be pope forever, but there is something so surprising and surreal when it is time to say goodbye.

I was born under the pontificate of John Paul II, but really came of age with the influence of Benedict XVI, under his reign.  His encyclical Deus Caritas Est was the centerpiece of my thesis for undergrad.  His words and his quiet presence, his strongminded gentleness have inspired me more than I can say.

And now he retires to a quiet life, the life he envisioned for himself before the Holy Spirit called him to a place where he did not ever see himself going.  I am so thankful for his papacy, and although I miss him horribly already I am thankful for his example of quiet, invisible yet unmistakable holiness that he will now live in seclusion.  Now he can live the life of holiness hidden from the world.  That so great a man can leave the chair of St. Peter for a monastic life instead reminds me of how every day there are hidden saints among us, living quiet holiness and working out their salvation in fear and trembling.

Benedict's greatness comes from his love for Christ, whether he lives as pope or as someone who prays without ceasing.  As simple as it sounds, love made him who he is regardless of what setting he is in.  In some ways, his retirement is a gift.  A painful one but one that can't help but remind me of his beautiful writing.  Man cannot life by bread alone, nor can he love by agape alone.  It is not enough to try to be of service to all people, to be for them, to pour yourself out.  Without eros, without the humility to be filled by the love of a God greater than anything that you can offer, true charity is not possible.

Benedict's life has been one given over to love.  Even as an unlikely pope who would have been more at home in prayerful reflection and solitude, he has lived and loved well.  He has sought God in all things and offered himself in love for others in all things.  Well done, good and faithful servant.  Go forward in joy to the place that has been prepared for you.  You are so very loved, and will be missed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taking store

This Lent, the first sacrifice that I am making is to work to eat out of our pantry and freezer as much as possible.  Here is my reasoning, goal, etc.

1. I waste food and I know it. I lose things in the recesses of my freezer because I lack the discipline to keep in mind what we already have before buying food because it's easier for me.
2. When I hit the wall, if I need to, I know that I do have the ability to walk down the street and get more groceries. Whether I take this or not, when I hit that wall I can pause and pray for those who can't walk down the street for groceries like I can.
3. It helps me really focus and meditate on the Scriptures and the Lord's Prayer.
4. I think we get more creative when we are working on a wing, a prayer, what our friends can help us with, and that is a way to see God in my life.

The way I do it is that I can prepare to a certain extent before Lent starts (see what I have in there, make sure there are no major gaps) and I will still buy fresh fruits, dairy and eggs and perishables because I'm not willing to compromise healthfulness. And I'm not letting the kids who have birthdays in Lent not have what the other kids have either. But I need to use the freezer as much as I can, and the pantry as much as I can for meals.

And I think this is one thing where you know if you're cheating or not, and even when you cheat you still see that you're cheating and that knowledge and reminder that this is reality for many people, that they have to stretch the pantry of freezer until Payday (or until the social security or unemployment check clears, or the food pantry opens again.) This is my way to stand in solidarity with and pray with people for whom that life is a reality, because it's a lot of people.

So, today being Ash Wednesday, I figured that it was time to see what I actually have on hand.  I started opening up pantry doors and pulling things out, counting them, entering what I have into my mealplanning app.

It took about 20 minutes in before I realized just how important this sacrifice is really going to be for me.  I looked through everything and realized that I have almost 20 pounds of pasta.  I have meal after meal after meal sitting right here and I didn't even know it.  Between disorganization and absentmindedness, I didn't see how many days bread I've already been given.  And I can hear the echoes from every single time that I've whined about how "we don't have anything here to eat."  Looking at it all now is humbling in a way that I really can't put easily into words.

It took a few hours this morning, but the pantry has been tackled and organized.  I will have to do the freezer tomorrow morning.  But as I put things away, can by can, jar by jar, cereal box after cereal box I could not help but wonder how many other gifts that aren't food that God has given to me that are lying forgotten in a corner next to some other mislaid virtues.  How many blessings do I have hidden in the cupboard all but forgotten because I haven't taken store of them? 

I think this will be a very humbling Lent.

Still alive!

Quick update before I try writing some Lenten things later today.  Our glowworm is almost a year old now, and such a wonderful little guy to have.  Thumbelina closes in on being two, Baby Bear is 4 1/2, Goldilocks cut off her curls and is starting to look more grown up than the 6 years old she will turn on Monday.  Yogi Bear makes his First Communion this year.  Papa Bear serves at Mass every week and is growing into an incredible older kid.

And Gil and I are peeking around the corner at our 11th wedding anniversary.  It's been a long time since I last posted and so many things have happened, mostly for good.  But today is Ash Wednesday, and I wanted to write about where I am trying to grow this Lent.  I will try to post later this afternoon about what Lent is going to be for me this year, but for now I can just type off this quick note and then it's back to the pantry.