A friend messaged me this morning to wish me a happy Fat Tuesday, and we started talking about the implications of the day. I happened to be on the elliptical machine at the gym when I received the message, with the aftertaste of dark chocolate in my mouth from the bar I had already enjoyed this morning for breakfast.
I popped my headphones in to listen to the lectionary reading for today while I ellipsed (new word for the action of doing the elliptical machine; you're welcome). The Old Testament reading is from the Wisdom of Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus), a book of wisdom literature similar to Proverbs. As a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, sometimes I still get nervous when the readings are from the books that were not in my Protestant Bible. But today, I was encouraged in the reading--
"To keep the law is a great oblation..."
This verse turned my thoughts to tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. Recovering from childbirth and adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom to four kids under five has occupied my thoughts almost entirely , and I haven't really given Lent a thought until now. What am I going to give up?
Vocabulary lesson for the day: oblation. I first heard this word when Zachary and I were asked to be oblates in the church we were married in. It's a weird word, but in that context it meant that we were assigned to bring the bread and wine up to the altar for the priest to consecrate.
So, what will my Lenten oblation be? As a Catholic, I have the option to give up something or add a devotional practice in my observation of Lent. But it's not easy to decide what to do...because fasting scares me.
I write about being fat and my journey to finding my belovedness a lot, and that's because it is something that I think about almost every day. Fasting and I have a rough history, and I am still unpacking the baggage from years of misplaced fasting motivation.
So, understandably, Lent can be scary. But when I think about bringing the Lord an oblation, rather than just denying myself something, it makes it easier. Instead of bringing the bread and wine to the altar, I am bringing myself. With joy.
It's Fat Tuesday, but every day is a fat day for me. I live and move and have my being in this body and in Christ Jesus. I want to flourish in this season. So whether I give up something or take on an extra practice in the season that begins tomorrow, I bring my whole self as an oblation--with joy, with intentionality, and with a little bit of trepidation--as I ask for God to make me ready for Holy Week, that I can see the cross and resurrection in a new light.