Tonite I completely and deliberately broke my Lenten fast of wine.
For some reason today was the day that broke the camel's back.
I am not known (even by those who love me) as the most consistently stable and even-keeled girl out there. However, most agree that I (along with wine) tend to get better with age. Nonetheless, I certainly have my moments.
My path has been treading between rampant rebellion and delirious devotion: falling somewhere between Juno and Junebug. (google it!)
Every day I see myself in the mirror and think, "You're almost forty." 'Almost forty' gives me pause. Anxiety. Exhilaration. And Despair.
My imperative...My devotion...My passion...My love...My agony--and my ecstasy--have (for better or worse) been centered on my role as Mother. Caregiver. Mentor. Molder. Sculptor of lives that will leave the world better than they found it....
...But I digress
Tonite in a flurry of vocational doubt, financial insecurity, self-inflicted parental demonization--countered by the utter love, acceptance, compassion and cheerleading that can only be offered by the truest of friends, I had a glass of wine.
And then another. (she brought two bottles)
While I made the specific choice to give up this most favorite of treats, comforts, delights...I had only vague reasons as to why I made such a choice.
After attending the Ash Wednesday service at my church I received more clarity about why I chose to give up anything at all.
The discipline of Lent ("Lenten" means to lengthen, or to grow) is truly that: a discipline. It is also a discipline that drives the disciple to reflect, meditate and grow.
Despite the fact the I hoped for certain "bonus" side effects (weight loss, saving $$, giving my liver a break) I truly wanted to explore the experience of giving something up.
What I have learned thus far is that the mere act of giving something up compels me to think of why I made that choice each time an opportunity to be bad rears its tempting head (or some random idiot or pretty sunset or mouthy teenager makes me long for a smooth, luxuriant sip).
And then I remember why: To grow. Spiritually.
The mere act of being reminded that I want to be focused, grateful and open to whatever the bigger (and better) plan for my life is, is justification enough to hold back on the fermented grape juice for a few weeks.
I do not believe that not drinking wine until Easter will make me a more worthy or pure soul when Judgment Day rolls around (the mere fact that I unabashedly and without reserve believe in Grace makes that entire idea completely absurd!). However, I do believe that incorporating any signal, clue, secret code or other blatant reminder into my life that kicks me in the ass and says, 'Wake up! Pay attention! This is your life--don't squander it!' is a blessing.
I may have chosen a particularly challenging and painful Tuesday as my "Feast Day" instead of Sunday--but I feel more acutely than ever the real reason for even considering giving something up for Lent.
This has been a gift that keeps me plugged in to my own spiritual life. I may (and most certainly will) stumble--but the clarity to recognize, welcome and learn from those skinned knees is undeniable.