We've been back to normal Orthodox fasting rules for a few weeks now - or what is really the "new normal" for us, since we've only been doing this since November. The Advent Fast ended (you guessed it) on Christmas, and we had no fasting at all until just before Theophany (aka Epiphany). Now, every Wednesday and Friday until Lent, we eat as we do during a long fast: no meat, eggs, dairy, olive oil, or wine. On days we're not fasting, I almost long for it; I think "tomorrow, when it's a fast day, I won't even think about going out for a burger for lunch, because I won't be able to." And then the fast day comes and I'm the same person I was the day before: undisciplined, short on time, and wanting a cheeseburger. Today I hauled myself dutifully from the office to Chipotle for lunch: black bean burrito with rice, pico and guacamole. The. Same. Burrito I've eaten for what seem like years but is really only since Thanksgiving. I eyed the shredded cheese intently: surely God doesn't care if I eat cheese today? And no, I don't think God cares much about cheese in particular. But He does care about obedience and self-discipline, and so I grumbled past the cheese and went without.
Tonight I heated up some vegetarian pinto beans, cooked a big pot of brown rice, and cut up an avocado. Lunch, deconstructed. I told the boys they could have whatever else they wanted to eat - they could grate cheese and make tacos or quesedillas - whatever they wanted to do. Instead, they gleefully tucked into the same meal I felt grumpy about, gobbling up bean and rice tacos like hungry peasant children, not pausing to grate cheese or ask for anything more. Their joy at the table humbled me, and for once the humility was a flavorful sauce for the plain food.
I'm thankful for children who can have joy in simplicity, and for the lessons God sends through them and so many others as we start down this path as a part of His church. We are truly saved together and damned alone - and thank God for that, too.