When I was a little girl, my siblings and I made this delightful batch of cookies. Later in the day, Mom was in the pantry and took out the flour and and threw it out. It was full of mealy worms. Those cookies weren’t quite so delightful anymore. Worse than the cookies, it was the thought of the raw dough we, of course, ate between baking batches.
There’s a very practical side to this time time of “taking stock”. Taking stock of the pantry and taking stock of our lives. I like to consider this time a time of “Do Nothing”. We have this tendency to rush forward into Spring and all that spring has to offer and the excitement of what’s to come after that…finally summer. We rush in, ignoring the seasons of Pause.
It’s time to hit that pause button. Take stock. When we rush past where we are now without taking stock, we might find that we’ve got mealy worms that we didn’t notice in our rush.
This is a more “ordinary time” between Christmas and Lent. Ordinary sounds so blah, but it’s delightful. A time of ordinary things. The loveliness of the day to day. The family that surrounds us. The home that we live in. The Church family and other community families that we’ve built in our day to day lives. Ordinary food. Ordinary play. The simplicity of our lives.
Perhaps part of this “taking stock” is appreciating where we are and what we have and who we have in our lives. PAUSE. This “do nothing” is a time of appreciation and love for all the simple, every day things. And the simple, every day blessings that often get overlooked.
Many of us will be choosing to “go into the Wilderness” in a few weeks for the season of Lent. We’ll Reflect more on that next week, but as a teaser: Owen and I, and the INC group have some wonderful things in store for that season.
Taking stock can help us the prep for a deliberate Wilderness or just whatever’s to come in our lives. What do we have that sustains and nourishes us? What do we need to sustain and nourish us? Are we in a place that we are stable and strong enough to go into the Wilderness? And that’s going to look different for each of us. For some, giving up chocolate is its own Wilderness. Or technology for a time each day. For others, committing to a daily discipline is its own Wilderness. We, each of us, have our own Wilderness. And each of us will be plunged into our own Wildernesses of life.
But I’m ahead of the game. We’re in the “taking stock” and “do nothing” phase of noticing what we have and where we are and how far we’ve come. PAUSE. Perhaps reflecting on what has sustained us and nourished us in body and faith. What continues to nourish and sustain us. What no longer nourishes and sustains us.
Taking stock. Getting rid of the old. The mealy wormy flour. To make space for the new. We’re not yet accumulating the new. Not yet filling back up. We’re taking stock, maybe eliminating…or setting aside what’s to be eliminated. But in ordinary times, we get to do and savor ordinary things.
Like tonight, we might enjoy the delights of pizza and chicken wings. Maybe a beer. Watch a game. To take in the simple pleasures of this season.
Tuesday, in this ordinary time, we might eat all of the chocolate to take in the sweetness of where we are now.
The following Tuesday, we might eat all the pancakes to take in plenty of nourishment as we prepare to shed what burdens us.
Taking stock and clearing out to refresh the body, mind, and soul.
One of the most beautiful things of ordinary times is food. Delighting in food. Food as a Sacred Act. Often, we think immediately of the deprivation of food as a sacred act. Fasting. Eating only this or that. Eating this way or that way. Eliminating this or that as not-sacred for whatever reason. But ordinary times gives us the space to appreciate the ordinary meals. The ordinary bread. The ordinary wine. To make day to day eating an act of grace.
We spend a lot of time judging ourselves, and one another, for what we eat or don’t eat. PAUSE. Food is so steeped in memory that it’s special even in the most ordinary of times. It’s a perfect place to practice gratitude and kindness toward ourselves and toward others. Love. Love in feeding ourselves. Love in feeding others.
We talk most about what we should give up and how we’re supposed to be eating, but what if we simply eat? What if we simply enjoy the ordinary act of day to day eating? Make it sacred, in and of itself? This isn’t the time to do, it’s taking stock and savoring… the chocolate, the comfort of pancakes. Savoring and counting our blessings.
Delighting in the ordinary food and the ordinary people in our lives.
When was the last time you said “grace”? Thank you is the greatest prayer. Whatever we are eating (the home cooked meal, the vegan delight, or the McDonald’s hamburger, whatever it is) we can gave thanks. Thanks for food. Thanks for choices. Thanks for those who made it. Thanks for where our food came from. Thanks for the company we eat with. Thanks for the blessings.
I sometimes think a blessed (and joyful) not-so-good-for-you meal is much better than the “perfect” meal eaten in a moment that feels heavy and un-blessed. Or full of self recrimination or judgement or even pride.
In these quiet, ordinary, taking-stock times, perhaps we can remember the sacredness of every single simple day. To remember that we can make sacred the simply things we do each day. Each morning, we can wake with grace. We can eat as if we matter, as if we are the hands of God in this world, as if we are deserving of nourishment to spread goodness and blessings through our day to everyone we meet. God gave us each the gift of our precious life and when we feed that life with good, nourishing food, we are honoring that blessing and gift. We are giving thanks.
And with that thanks, we can remember that food connects us to one another. Every meal can be a meal of communion. Every meal can be an opportunity to give thanks for the bread we break and as a prayer or wish that all beings may not be in want of food and nourishment.
So as we Pause and Reflect in this “do nothing”, ordinary time, we still have blessings to remember, we still have work to be done, and we still have love to be shared. Pause. Take Stock. And bask in the preciousness of the ordinary day to day. Give thanks. And Grace.
And if you delight in the feasting of the Super Bowl tonight, take pause. Remember your blessings. Give thanks. And delight in the ordinary feast before you and the ordinary company surrounding you.