After service, during fellowship hour this past Sunday, I noted something I often see during any time when we share food and companionship – one last lonely little bite of food, sitting all by itself on a serving tray.
Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen this, often in the workplace: someone brings in some cake, or donuts, or some other treat. Everyone digs in until there’s just one piece left. Then eventually, half of that piece disappears, then half of that, then half of that, and this goes on and on until there’s such a tiny piece left that it is indistinguishable from the left over crumbs; or else the microscopic remnant finally turns stale and gets tossed out.
Why do we do this? Why are we reluctant to take all of the last bit, even when the portion we take is so small that we can hardly taste it, and leave an equally small portion for the next person!? It’s a very human thing to do, but also really kind of silly when you think about it. And yet, we all do it.
And so, in this Lenten season, I wonder how this little foible that so many of us have can be seen through the Lenten call to break away from the daily grind, to deprive ourselves of something we do (or consume) over and over again, to break with the regular routine of our lives, so that we can better discern and enact the call and purposes of God for our lives.
It seems to me that one lesson that can be derived from such morsels is that in creating these tiny remnants, we must ask ourselves whether cutting food into unusable morsels is really “sharing.” Another (and perhaps more important) lesson is that if we leave it and it goes stale, are we failing to avail ourselves (or others) of the generosity of the person who supplied it? (On the other hand, giving them whole cake is just as problematic!)
So, for me, Lent is not a season of deprivation and denial. Many of us do these things during Lent, but we do not do them because self-denial or suffering is somehow a virtuous thing. It isn’t. Instead, it is a way to more deeply and faithfully encounter and cherish God’s love for us, to hear God’s voice more clearly, and to increase our appreciation and awareness of the tiny morsels we constantly encounter in life. Lent is a time to dig more deeply into (and appreciate) God’s love and abundance for us through the setting aside our own abundances for a brief period. It is a time when we learn to share more deeply with God, and thereby learn how to better share God’s love with others.
May this Lenten season be a time of growth, and sharing for you; and (once Lent is over), when you see that last morsel on the tray, don’t be afraid to just enjoy the whole darn thing!
Copyright (c) 2013, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or getting) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given (via a credit that gives my full name and provides a link back to this site).