i’ve missed sunday service even before the start of lenten season; i did, however, attend ash wednesday service. God haunted me gently, as He does not infrequently, through the liturgy (the lilting, melodic confession and adoration), the music (imagine a chamber orchestra + brass in a manhattan-sized living room, and the resulting groundswell), the homily (the truth tidal wave), the imposition of ashes–which i’d almost forgotten until international students from china (a guess) on the e train talked about ash wednesday.
thanks to my church-truancy, attending that service affected me like inhaling a multi-course meal when you’ve not eaten for hours. hunger simultaneously exposed and sated. i miss worshiping corporately; there’s something so special about the way God meets people and vice versa in such settings. more often than not, community is conducive to these sweet encounters.
so why have i been absent? why would anyone rob themselves of beauty to which they have full access?
there are so many things i could blame with varying degrees of legitimacy. like, the onslaught of snow that stilled new york city’s public transportation. and the chest cold that would’ve lingered longer in my lungs had i not limited my exposure to the elements. or the law school-induced sleep-deficit cycle that keeps me in bed until at least noon during the weekend.
but mostly, the buck stops with me. and i still [cue norah jones clip] don’t know why i didn’t come [end clip] to church these past few weeks.
suffice it to say for now that doubt hasn’t kept me away. does that not testify to the power of God’s word, that the mere daily reading of scripture (i’ve read through it twice in the past couple years) helped sustained me thus far.
it’s counterintuitive, but this impromptu hiatus from sunday service makes me feel like i can identify with Jesus a wee bit more. for lent this year, i didn’t set out to abstain from anything, given my low success rate with that. my attempts to approach lent proactively have been half-successful.
tangent: can i just say how prophetic a cry for mercy: prayers from the genesee by henri nouwen has been to me this season? maybe it’s the not worshiping in a corporate setting that has made me more sensitive. or maybe he’s just that legit. how did he articulate far more beautifully than i could that cries of my heart? (besides holy spirit, obvi.) i, too, hope to revisit the genesee abbey.
anyway. lent is supposed to emulate Jesus’ wilderness period, right? which immediately followed his baptism when the heavens opened up and God the Father lavished affirmation and love over the Son. and during His time in the wild, He was mostly alone.
i could be, probably am mistaken, “Jesus paid the cost so i didn’t have to,” i get it. but i wonder anyway whether my hiatus from sunday service–being distant from the fellowship of God’s people–parallels his desert period.
in any event, in the spirit of lent, i have thus far successfully resisted the impulse to trek to dough or any other artisanal yeast doughnut shops. of course, turning stones into bread after forty days of fasting = waaaayyyy more formidable temptation, but maybe in this culture of instant gratification, it’s no small miracle that i have not rushed to the subway to feast on this floury goodness. at least a baker’s dozen times i have yelped and/or google mapped the nearest doughnut places and long island city’s relative proximity to williamsburg/other hipster enclaves in brooklyn is almost (but really not quite) the same as turning stones to bread.
ugh, just writing about it increases my cravings… [sigh] [deep breath] i will wait until easter to eat delicious doughnuts… what better way to celebrate that Christ is risen, indeed, by eating a wonderfully dense yet fluffy ring of fried dough?
dear Jesus, thank you for doughnuts. give me grace to wait until easter to partake, and in the meanwhile, may my need and desire for you far outweigh the simple wants and false cravings of lesser pleasures. but i thank you that in your goodness, you give us the little goodies, like passion fruit dough doughnuts, too. thank you for grace you’ve lavished on me, despite how “far” i feel from you. you’re awesome, i love you. amen.