I’ve taken a little break from writing during the past month. I have never had a February so busy as I did last month. Rest assured, I’ve continued on with new recipe Tuesdays, baking, cooking, minimal amounts of crafting, and time with family. February/early March brought a trip where my parents went to see my sister in Ohio, a chance for family togetherness with a baby shower for my cousin John and his wife, pledging for my students, and in the past couple of weeks, two new babies. I’ve started spending more time with a few new friends as we’ve explored what the new pizza tastes like at the Lincoln Wine Bar, here in Mount Vernon. It was at one of these gatherings that I was inspired to follow through on a couple of ideas I had previously had for blogging.
That being said, February also has brought on Lent. I have been so blessed with many friends who have supported my religious beliefs, and also had friends who have demanded me to explain them. I have had moments where I have embraced everything the church offers me in terms of faith, understanding, and a way of explanation. I have also had times where I have felt extremely challenged by the patriarchy and ease of going through the motions, not sure where my belief landed. Some reading may find this challenging, but I find it comforting to know that the way I have experienced my faith has challenged me throughout my life thus far and will likely challenge me in the future. One should not interpret this as a disbelief in God or in Christ as my way of finding God. Instead, it’s a testament to ways in which I care about my faith that I have questioned it.
Some pretty heavy topics on a blog generally meant to share highlights in my life, recipes I’ve tried, and the quilt recipes I try to recreate…yet, Lent often brings on a time of reflection. On one of the Tuesday nights we were at the wine bar, my friends and I were discussing other places for us to get together on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evening and one individual brought up fish fries. This in turn reminded me of what had become a ritual the past two years with my colleagues in Central Minnesota. On Friday nights throughout Lent, we would peruse the local fish fries to eat, drink, and be merry together. Whether we were eating fish in Minneapolis, St. Cloud, or Albany, it was a group of 5-15 of us who would come together, partake in small town culture and rate the food, atmosphere, and different options. There were moments of judgment, appreciation, laughter, and most importantly, community.
For me, the church has consistently brought me community. When it isn’t feeling like home or I am struggling to cope with rulings, teachings, or the treatment of women, it’s the members of the community with whom I find comfort. My friends who encourage a deep dialogue about faith, the theology courses in which I embark, and the reflective nature of Lent consistently bring me back into a deeper relationship with God.
It’s been tradition in the Church and in my family to give something up for Lent, or to do something that requires a giving of self/embracing a new practice to further grow in that relationship with God. This year, I have chosen to give up processed food. It has been a challenge. I’ll write more about that soon. And, I will blog again soon…I promise.
In the meantime, thank you for letting me process the first part of what my faith has meant to me. I expect there will likely be follow-ups, especially as part of what Lent makes me think about is loss and this year has been one which has had many joys and many losses. Today, however, when the temperature reached 80 degrees with a nice breeze, I pictured myself sitting on the edge of a lake, at a church, eating fish, and laughing with friends at a good old fashioned fish fry.