When I give something up, I gain something else…
I spent the afternoon yesterday visiting with Aunt Helen and her kids, my cousins Lisa and Mike. It was a much-needed visit with family I don’t get to see nearly often enough. For years we have run into each other most frequently at the funeral home, and that is a situation I think we all would like to change. After some recent events in each of our lives, we might be more likely to make time for visits like yesterday.
I remarked yesterday that I collected feathers but I had not found one in a while, and I was looking forward to springtime when the birds are more active and there might be more feathers to find. In an interesting bit of timing and providence, today on the first day of Lent, I found my first feather in months. It’s not a pretty one. It’s kind of dirty and pitiful, actually, enough to make me wonder what the little bird might have suffered in the process of dropping it.
But I didn’t think twice about picking it up and adding it to the others I have gathered over the last few years. It’s pitiful, but I will give it a home. As Lent commences, I think about how pitiful I am, but God has given me a home even in my pitiful state. Many religious traditions encourage their adherents to give up various indulgences during Lent, or to take on some extra project to enhance one’s spiritual life. A couple of times during Lent I have written letters to people telling them how much they mean to me. It turned out to be a study in gratitude that blessed me more than it blessed the recipients.
Several years ago I decided to read the C.S. classic “Mere Christianity”. It took time that I could have used tor other pursuits, but what I gained from reading it far outweighed the time I invested. This year, in addition to eating more sensibly, I have decided it’s time for more C.S. Lewis during Lent, and the book I’ve chosen is “The Problem of Pain”. I am certain that God led me to this particular book for a reason; after enduring Aunt Ruby’s death last summer and watching numerous friends lose their loved ones, especially parents, in the last several months, suffering has been very present in my world.
Jesus told us that in this world our lives would be filled with trouble. He never promised is that we would not suffer. What He did promise is that we would not suffer alone; He is with us in our pain. As I give up pieces of my time to do extra reading during Lent, I am trusting that God has something for me to gain through that investment. He always does.
(the opening page before the preface to “The Problem of Pain” by C.S. Lewis, and the sad little feather I found today)