A Place at the Table: Day 8

Thursday – I got home late last night (10:30ish) from a meeting at church.  I didn’t cook my pasta ahead of time as has been my habit. I was tired, and it didn’t even cross my mind before I went to bed.  So, I had to do it this morning. It was certainly a fragrant start to the day, and such wonderful aromas are blessings not to be taken for granted.  But I was worried that it would make me hungrier. Thankfully it didn’t.  I hope that is a sign that my fast is “taking root.”

As it turns out, I only ate one of the two small meals I made.  I spent the afternoon finishing up plans for Sunday morning and visiting parishioners.  In the rush I never found an opportunity to eat the second portion.  I didn’t miss it too much, until around 4:30pm.  By then I was really hungry, but it was so close to dinner I decided to hold off.   I made it to dinner just fine.

The afternoon rush also postponed my trip to the store.

Dinner was wonderful and I ate well.  Once again I got hungry before bed, which is something I’m coming to expect.  It was different this time, however. For the first time this Lent I got a serious craving for something specific: pizza.  My late night hunger  has been intense at times, but it’s always been a general kind of hunger easily satisfied with whatever happened to be handy.  This craving was much more gnawing and difficult to ignore.  I ended up eating a slice of cheddar cheese along with a few pepperoni I found in the fridge.  Thankfully, that did the trick.  I am now bracing for the moment when one of these gnawing, specific cravings hits me during the hours of my fast.

This experience has reminded me of the nature of temptation. We tend to talk about temptation as a concept, but it does not exist as an abstraction.  It’s concrete and tactile – always.  That’s how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness.  He didn’t say, “If you’re hungry, Messiah, why don’t you make yourself something to eat.”  He said, “If you’re hungry, turn that stone into a loaf of bread.”  I can easily say no to “breakfast”;  it’s the toast with jelly sitting on the counter that is hard to resist – or that vision of pizza in your mind that is so detailed you can smell it and taste it.

Gracious Lord, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.

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