This morning’s post in the series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For? is by Melanie Clark Pullen. She is a theatre and film artist, writer, wife, mother and pilgrim following the Way of Christ. Today’s reflection was first posted here.
It is said that Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights and that he did battle with the devil in preparation for his ministry. To honour this fast and to prepare our hearts for the festival of Easter with its horror of crucifixion and triumph of resurrection, Christians traditionally attempt abstinence of some sort or another over the period of Lent.
As kids we used to give up chocolate or fizzy drinks. As I grew and bucked against the legalism of my evangelical upbringing, I let the tradition go for a few years. Then I began to see the value of having a specific time to purge myself of some bad habits and I would use the time to attempt to give up cigarettes or wine, usually with laughable results.
Over the past five years, I’ve gone through the dark night of the soul, down into the valley of the shadow of death with its deafening silence. I’ve emerged limping and bruised, clutching my blessing like Jacob. The soft and gentle, flabby spirituality of my youth has been stripped from me and I’m down to the bones. My soul’s lean now, and it hungers like never before. The chocolate coated answers I used to gleefully swallow, the toffee that kept my jaw clamped, won’t stay down now.
And all my old addictions sit like predators ready to feed on my fear. We’ve been eying each other up for some time now. I’ve tried to ignore the gnawing sense that battle is about to commence, that these false friends will have to be overcome sooner or later.
I hunger for my most true, most authentic self, the God given gold underneath; the released spirit who, free from the constraints of fear, filled with perfect love can be of some use in this world. I hunger for the starvation of my ego; an obese and stuck thing. I hunger for transformation.
So it’s with a wry smile that I state the following: I’m going to spend the Lenten season in a wilderness of obscurity, cut off from friends and acquaintences on Facebook and Twitter. Too often, the bite size conversations, the pithy comments, the broadcasting of my likes and dislikes nibble away at my time and eat away at authentic connection. My ego gorges on the attention or weeps over the lack of it. It’s time to cut it off from its greedy need to be seen. I’ll try to blog about my Lenten journey, though there’s an argument that might be replacing one addiction with another. I’ll also be starving myself of other addictive behaviours to honour the hunger in my soul.
Goodness knows what kind of person I’ll be when the sun rises on Easter morning. I can see my addictions salivating at the thought of my failure. I may stumble, but in Christ I have already overcome.