Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

When I was in college, my sweetheart pulled up in front of the teachers' college building to pick me up. I opened the door, jumped in and began rattling about some dumb topic when I was distracted mid-sentence by a smear on my boyfriend's forehead. I kept talking but licked my thumb, reached over, and gave him the first spit bath he'd had since 1962.

I knew something was wrong when he began flailing at me. He wasn't angry; he was just trying to nonagressively dodge me, but I was ON that smear.

I said something like, "You silly boy; you have dirt on your forehead!" And he said, "It's Ash Wednesday."

And so there was another chapter to learn in the "We Are of Different Faiths" book, subtitled: "Why I'm Right and You're Wrong." I got a whole lesson on Ash Wednesday that day.

It just so happens that over the years, we each left the denominations we grew up in and found the church in which we have raised our family and where I now work. (Interesting side note: we were married in the Catholic church with my Protestant minister sharing part of the officiating.) But one thing I realized in those early Catholic vs. Protestant years is, for the most part, Protestants don't do Lent well.

This year I decided to fast something that I love until Easter. More than love, I also sort of depend on it, which shows that it has a fairly prominent place in my life. It's so small, and yet, when I miss it, I miss it big-time: Coffee.

This morning was a little rough, but I made it through. The killer came when I realized that a few days ago, I had agreed to meet a friend at a local coffee house for conversation and coffee--today. Ash Wednesday. The first day of the coffee fast.

I walked in, and that wonderful aroma slithered its way up my nostrils, tempting me. I flashed back to Eden, where Satan said to Eve, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" only I heard, "Did you really say to God, 'I'm going to completely fast coffee for Lent?' or did you in actuality say, 'On any given day in Lent, I may forego coffee or chocolate or backrubs. But I will not be a slave to legalism?'"

It was no use. I knew what I had decided on, and I had another drink instead. But it was so cold and ... blech!

There are a few aromas in this world that trigger immediate emotional responses for me: my newborn's neck, my mom's linens, my grandma's lilacs, gardenias and coffee.

It smelled so rich and good in the Blue Bottle Coffee Shop today that I felt guilty just being there. Surely I was absorbing coffee through my pores. But just so you know, I stayed strong.

And also just so you know, licking the rim of the leftover cup at the empty table on the way out does NOT count as drinking coffee.


Melanie said...

Bravo. Stay strong.

I have learned a lot about Lent from my Catholic friends. You are right- we protestants don't do it well. Some of us even ignore it completely.

Hang in there. God sees your heart and when you do these things (fast) for the right reasons, He will reward you in His Way. Even if you lick the rim of the leftover cup on the way out... :>)

Susanne said...

Does chewing on chocolate covered coffee beans count?

Seriously good for you! That is such a biggy for me that I'm so admiring you doing it. Do you like chai tea? I sometimes find that is a nice substitute for coffee. Not that it tastes the same but it seems to satisfy the "treat" craving when I go into a fancy coffee shop.

Carol said...

Whose idea was Lent, anyway?

Coffee? That's serious.

Susan said...

I do think it's good to "give up" things occasionally. I was thinking about this last night with my own "addiction" DIET COKE. I always say, "I could stop and drink water anytime I want." The truth is...sometimes I would rather have a Diet Coke. Then you wonder, "Is this really the way I want to live?...If it happens with this "little" thing...then what "bigger" things do I give priority in my life?"

I'm praying for your fast...May God continue to bless you...

samurai said...

Wow... way to stay focused.

My beloved is of Catholic upbringing as well, although it has never been an issue between us.

Coffee... that is dedication. May the Holy Spirit give you strength as you forgoe this pleasure. May it bring you strength as you endure and may it help you in other areas with your walk with Christ. :)

Mommy, the Human Napkin said...

Oh, you brave, brave soul. I feel your pain, sister! I recently switched to 1/2 caff and oh sweet mercy, do I miss my regular 100% Colombian dark roast. This new stuff is almost enough to make me want to cut out coffee altogether. Almost.

His Singer said...

Oh my WORD...

Girlfriend, you've almost gone over the edge here. I mean REALLY.

Firstborn son? Sure. Right arm? Cut away.

BUT COFFEE??!!????

Neverinamillionyears...unless, you know, I'd lose my salvation or something by drinking it...I think.


Glad I'm not feeling your pain, but praying for your strength!

LoriAnne said...

I can't tell you how hard this made me laugh....Thank you!