Like many church-goers these days, even at age 63 I find myself on the younger end of the pew in my congregation. The season of Lent began on Wednesday and I have to confess that the practice of giving up something like chocolate for 40 days never made a lot of sense to me, a merely pious exercise.
But observing my elders in the sanctuary, the matter-of-fact way they cope with infirmity, disability and pain, has led me to think differently about appetite and about sacrifice.
After Mardi Gras
Something in the mind is like a tent caterpillar nest,
waiting to burst open and consume every leaf down
to the limb. There will always be another tree.
Appetite is writ large on a moonscape of tar sands,
on big gulps of mountaintop removal. Monster trucks
in the Mall of America. Our claw marks on every shiny.
So, after Mardi Gras, we practice letting go, learning
what we’ll need to know when the big fire sale comes,
when what we offer up is eyesight, walking, breath itself.