Tuesday Confessional Booth

Tuesday Confessional Booth

As I had decided, I broke the fast on Sunday. To my relief — and also to my regret! — I didn’t go wild. A few Jelly Bellies (that was an accident; one of the kids put them in my hand while I was teaching and I popped them in my mouth), three Oreos, and a cup of my usual coffee-ish morning beverage (Maxwell House International Coffees Orange Cappuccino, which is more sugar and creamer than coffee) after my post-church nap. No binging on sugar; not even dessert after every meal, as I had planned. I regretted that a little on Monday when I was in Whole Foods and could smell chocolate and baked goods everywhere.

Yesterday’s breakfast (which is what the photograph shows, although it’s not the best photo) was Root Vegetable Hash (parsnips, carrots, shallots, nitrite-free bacon, and yummy spices) with two eggs. I would have told you I didn’t like parsnips, but they were quite good. I think my tastebuds are all freaked out. They’ve forgotten their clear preferences.

Confession: I had candy on Saturday. Not just candy: a whole Snickers bar with coffee. I didn’t crave sugar so much as I desperately wanted to wake up; I was so sluggish. Magi wasn’t home, and I was a little aimless. Nothing like chocolate and coffee to wake me up! Then Sunday arrived, and the temptation was to say, “No, you don’t get to break the fast, since you cheated yesterday.” But cheating *yesterday* has nothing to do with the feast day; it’s like saying, “I’m not going to celebrate the resurrection because I ate chocolate yesterday.” or “No communion for cheaters!”

Definitely feeling ready to incorporate the other two elements of the usual Lenten discipline. The usual three are fasting (check), prayer (hmm; half-check?), and almsgiving (giving to those in need). After a week focused on getting through each day without sugar, I realize that all the preparation I did was in regards to the fast. My best spiritual retreats involve equal preparation for prayer and almsgiving.

Today I will plan for Week Two, and decide how to incorporate the prayer and almsgiving into Lent.


“Is this a Lent thing, or is this a diet thing?”

March 4, 2014
My good friend Liz asked me this question the other day: “OK, is this a Lent thing, or is it a diet thing?” Her question inspired this blog.

A few months ago I decided to quit sugar during Lent. Which begins on Ash Wednesday. Tomorrow.

“Giving something up” was my childhood Lent. And, like New Year’s resolutions, the shelf-life was pretty short. Adult Lent is about stripping away that which is unnecessary, clearing out a little space in my head, heart and body; adult Lent usually means some sort of additional spiritual discipline rather than getting rid of something.

But this year’s decision to spend a sugar-free Lent (free of a bunch of other things, too, as it turns out, at least for the first three weeks) is motivated more by spiritual impulse than an impulse to improve my health, look great, lose weight, etc. Sure, I’d like to be healthy, look good, maintain a healthy weight; but that’s not why I’m engaging in my sugar fast.

I’m addicted to sugar. I’ve been addicted to more harmful substances, so I understand addiction. And my working definition of addiction, at least this Lent, is “anything that diverts my attention from God,” or “anything that distracts me from what’s real.” Sugar has become a major distraction in my life.

For the first three weeks, I’m using a plan, The 21-Day Sugar Detox program; there’s a book, and a Facebook page, and it seems like a wholesome, sensible way to do this. Plus, it gives me a to-do list every day, which is good. This is scary for me; I’m afraid I’ll feel terrible and be cranky and find out that I don’t trust God. The antidote, as I see it, is to jump in and do it. Lots of planning, prayer, and as much presence as I can muster. (My husband Magi reminds me that failing to plan means I’m planning to fail; so cliche . . . so true! So I’m doing a lot of planning.) Mainly, though, I want to pay attention to my body; pay attention to my heart; pay attention to my thoughts.