Lent began last Monday and (stealing some of Father John Finley’s homily) it’s a time of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, with the purpose of strengthening our hearts, our minds and our wills… I love this time of year. Meals are simple, prayer is more intense, and adventure always seems to come my way. I do love adventure.
But some days I’m not capable of as much adventure as is thrown at me. I know this when I start running red lights. I accidentally drove right through a red light yesterday–straight through. Was it the growing headache? Or the enormous to-do list that was circulating in my head? I had hit my adventure limit.
It all started when my brother-the-baker-who-lives-in-LA showed up with four loaves of bread early in the morning. I already had molasses bread rising, so I knew this was going to be a giving sort of day. Plus, my brother is the super adventurous type–he brings all sorts of fun in his wake. I made him a pot of green tea, and then John Ronan started making a list. “Mom,” he said in his five-year-old way. “Mom. We HAVE to do four things today. Write them down.”
- Buy a birthday cake.
- Go to the toy store.
- Decorate the house.
- Go to the other toy store.
Yes, it was my daughter’s birthday, and John Ronan had a plan.
Problem was, I also had a plan. My big kids were performing in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and I had all sorts of errands to do, plus I was in charge of the bake sale for the musical, and all the mom volunteers, and getting the tables ready, and my parents were coming into town, and I had to clean the house, and wouldn’t it be great to just crawl back in bed and wake up on Sunday?
So, we got the cake, went to the toy store, went to the bank, went to the other toy store, bought balloons, cleaned the house. And all through this hustle and bustle I refused to forget about those six loaves of bread I had on my kitchen counter. So much bread!
During this time of Lent I’m hoping to give bread away to people who are hungry, or sad, or needy, or… people that I don’t like very much. I’m not a very vindictive person, and it takes quite a bit to offend me, but there are a few people in this town that I steer clear of. For quite some time I’ve been trying to get up the nerve to bring two people, in particular, bread. One lady runs the cashier at a nearby store that sells all sorts of Chinese-made trinkets. She’s grumpy and not long ago, when I asked about returning a few items because we had purchased way too much for a birthday party, she actually laughed right at me, and pointed to a sign that spelled out their return policy. She then folded her arms across her wide chest and smirked, so pleased. I just stared at her, stunned. She was mean.
Ooh. I was mad. As I walked to the car I so badly wanted to email all my friends and relate the episode, encouraging them to never shop there. But once I’d made it into the car, the good inside of me, the little man of Christ who sat hunched in an itsy bitsy corner of my heart, started to gain some ground. Just pray. It was then I realized that if anyone needed a hot loaf of bread and a smile, it was her…
So, there I was, armed with a warm loaf of molasses bread. But I don’t think my heart was fully in the right place–for she wasn’t there, (and I kept thinking about that smirk!). Instead I gave it to a young gentleman selling pixie sticks for some cause. He seemed grateful.
Not too much later, I was armed with a brown loaf of Swedish bread that my brothers had baked that morning. Heading to one of the toy stores, I spotted a homeless man smoking in a corner between two shrubs. I offered the bread but the man said, “Don’t eat bread,” between puffs. We said good-bye, turned the corner, and I literally ran into Dante, a waiter, artist, Italian friend. “Hey, Dante, how about a loaf of fresh bread?” He seemed happy to take it, and off we went–only four loaves left to consume.
Sad to say, the other three and a half loaves were still there this morning. But the musical went off beautifully, the birthday girl was pleased with her day, John Ronan got to check all four things off his list, and despite my headache and the red light, it was a pretty great, adventure-filled day.
But, please, Lord. No more days like that for a while?
And speaking of prayer… I need to forget that dratted smirk and seek out that woman in love.
Pray for me. For Lent has only just begun!