PARADOXICAL

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Monday, February 25, 2013

 

No more Lenten drama (but instead Lenten mortifications in its place)


Each time it's Lent, I have this running drama with the Lord that I probably thought would match St. Teresa of Avila's well-quoted complaint ("Lord, it's so hard to follow You (or something to that effect), that's why You have very few friends."). My own Lenten grumbling goes this way: "Lord, I am already carrying a lot of little and big crosses, must you ask me to refrain from some major things as well? That hurts!"

You see, for the longest time, I have been suffering from multiple food sensitivities, which deprives me of so many finer things in life. I have been avoiding chocolate, most mushrooms, bread, pasta, oats, flour/wheat noodles, and anything with flour/wheat/oats in it because I palpitate, feel tired for no reason, and look horrible, my eyes turning puffy and my skin turning the color of mud. They say these are symptoms of gluten sensitivity, which I avoid having by avoiding gluten-laden foods. It makes me sad sometimes, especially when I have to give in to satiate a little craving. I also avoid teas and coffee in general because they give me palpitations as well, unless these are diluted or decaf.

At present, I find myself suspecting new allergies: eggs and most fish. So come Lent, asking me to avoid meat, which has become my comfort food, can be too cruel. Sometimes I resent God for it, afraid to carry my cross on top of old crosses. What I do for Lenten mortification in place of meatless meals is avoid other things that can be avoided like watching TV or reading books and watching movies that are purely for entertainment.

With my panic attacks, I am unable to satisfy my usual diversions: intimate conversations with close friends at cafes, malling, taking longish walks, going to the movies, and part-time reviews of restaurants/hotels/resorts/travel destinations I am assigned to. This makes me feel so deprived and often drives me to self-pitying that I almost forgot that these things can be seen as well as golden spiritual opportunities; I can choose to take up my cross and offer it to God for whatever His purposes, trusting fully in His wisdom (which to my mind can seem wickedly funny and darkly cruel) -- or not.

Stef has unwittingly reminded me how important these mortifications are in the spiritual journey. I hope God would find merit in the little sufferings I've been going through and have recently gone through. These are the latest additions:

1. The sofa breaking in two, due to old age, with no replacement in sight (yet).

2. Three points in the ceiling leaking from the rains.

3. The bathroom drain being clogged. (Recently solved, thank God!)

4. The beautiful hanging lamp in the dining area crashing down on the glass table due to age. (I am just thankful, though, that the glass table did not break into pieces, despite the weight of the biggish lamp.)

5. The neighborhood cats boring three holes through the window screens.

6. The peeling paint on two different parts of the wall.

7. The decaying part of the front of the apartment.

8.  A kitchen cabinet window giving way.

9. The plate dispenser (?) falling off the wall.

10. The desktop PC conking out.

11. The old bed crying out for a brand-new replacement.

12. The TV showing signs of old age.

13. The ref conking out for an unknown reason.

14. The grating drone of jumbo jets flying overhead from time to time.

Gee, I am amazed how I have compiled this list not out of complaint. How much different I am this time of Lent!

It is my heartfelt prayer, though, that God would deliver me from each thorn one by one, in His time, as I hold on the belief that it is His will as well to make me happy and live a full life (John 10:10).

Dear Easter: Oh, how I am longing for you even this early. I know you will come, as you have unfailingly come through the years after Lent. Meanwhile, I should enter more fully into the spirit of Lent, by doing away with the drama of times past and choosing mortification.

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