Prep for Christ’s Death: Stop Eating Chocolate!

Monk MeditatingSometimes I am confounded when visitors come to the church once or twice and then they disappear, only to reappear months later. I’m always surprised because, when someone visits the church and then disappears, I assume they’ve decided we weren’t for them and they’ve put us out of their minds. Then TJ and I decided to start going to young adult Buddhist meditation on Sunday evenings. We went sometime in December, and the experience was really mountaintop amazing, for both of us. Having studied Buddhism and watched my dad meditate all my life, the few hours of meditation were so healing and fascinating to me. And then the woman leading the group led us in a discussion about Buddhism and social justice. The whole thing was just amazing and mind-blowing and perfect for us. And…we haven’t been back since. Don’t get me wrong–I fully intend to go back. I think about it every single Sunday. It’s just that things get in the way. I’m exhausted or sick or lazy or over-booked. And week after week goes by, and I still haven’t gone back. But one day, I’m going to show up and surprise that teacher, who probably thinks I’ve just put her and Sunday nights out of my mind completely.

It’s hard to form new, good habits. It is so hard for my body to stop shutting down on Sunday evenings, to pull my tangled hair off the couch pillow, where it plummets to earth after a busy Sunday at church, to put my shoes and coat and perky face back on, to walk outside into the cold and wind, to find my Metro card, to get cash to donate to the meditation center, and to walk into a new community for an experience that surely won’t top the first one. That takes a lot of energy when you’re not accustomed to mustering that energy at that particular time on that particular day! We’ve all struggled to form new habits—whether it’s going to the gym or reading the Bible or staying in touch with a friend. And it can be just as hard to break bad habits.

As we get into Lent, we are thinking about habits. Giving things up, taking things on. A friend recently was asking me about the purpose of Lent. I said that it was a time for us to prepare ourselves for the death and resurrection of Christ. My friend then said, “And you do that by not eating chocolate?” Well…when you put it that way…! Yes. Some of us do prepare for the death and resurrection of Christ by not eating chocolate, ok? And that’s because we know that we become close or far from God in everything we do. In every embodied action, every choice, every use of our time. Every movement of our bodies, minds, and spirits is a pivot toward or away from God. And everything we do with our bodies started with a choice and decision within our minds and spirits. So responding to the unhealthy cravings of our bodies begins with a spiritual decision. And not responding to our body’s craving may leave room for us to respond to God’s nudging. We are training our bodies to break the habits that pull us away from God so that we can form the habits that allow God to form us.

So—in that spirit— I will now, in the words of Paul, invite you into a holy Lent.

“I appeal to you…[sisters and] brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2

This Lent, I will be breaking myself away from checking Facebook obsessively on my phone, and I will be going to Buddhist meditation on Sunday evenings. What are you doing for Lent?

(This was originally shared as a devotion on one of Church of the Village’s Wednesday morning prayer calls. Join us any Wednesday morning at 7am for 20 minutes of devotion and prayer. Ph: (559)546-1200, Code: 533-689-191#)