I have often found it ironic that the season of Lent begins during the sickest months of the year. So I was not surprised when, thinking we were on the mend, one of the girls awoke this morning more severe than she was last week.
This endless coughing and sniffling and wheezing and aching is getting the best of my household. We are not a sick bunch and we mend quickly but this virus has claimed its spot on the calendar. No doubt.
So after dental check-ups for the well-beings, I made a quick stop at the supermarket for a few convalescent foods and arrived home loaded with foods that were anything but Lenten fare. Planning to restock the pantry shelves with cans of chicken noodle soup, I stepped inside the warmth of the house to find my oldest daughter already making a Lenten lunch of macaroni and cheese. Discussing with her the idea to try a new Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe to entice eating in the house while stacking the refrigerator with yogurt, she quipped, "So, Mom, if I get sick are you going to come home again with a
butt boat load of food?"
I just laughed at her as I, knowing my youngest could not resist this daily bread, popped a pan of buttered yeast rolls into the oven. I might have settled for one cup of coffee and a small bowl of mac and cheese as my breakfast/lunch. I might have to deny myself that Chocolate Bread Pudding, but my family is not held bound to partake of this sacrificial meal with me. In truth, it is my job to make sure they attend the party without me.
Gone are the days of sackcloth and ashes (except for the ones we receive today as a reminder of our mortal existence). The Catholic Church does not ask us to place our physical health in jeopardy. Our Lenten penance is a time for us to prepare to walk the road to Calvary with our Lord and Savior. Lent is a time for self-denial, self-sacrifice, a veiled anointing.
Sickness is not a cross chosen but a cross given.
So I'm looking at our diet and menu for this Lenten season to make sure it is full of fruits and vegetables and life-giving nourishment. That, I suspect, is how God calls me to serve my family best this Lent.
Ash Wednesday Fare
Breakfast: Sliced Apples, Toast
Lunch: Macaronic and Cheese, Hot Buttered Yeast Rolls, Cups of Yogurt
Supper: Red Beans and Rice with Cornbread (because Colleen's sounded so enticing), Sliced Peaches and Pears
Bedtime: Chocolate Bread Pudding
Lots and lots of bottled juices offered all day long and hot chicken noodle soup and crackers for anyone whose stomach isn't on the convalescent list.