My spiritual director gave me quite a penance yesterday. We got to the assigning of a penance portion of the Confession when he said with a twinkle in his eye, "How do you take your coffee?"
|A cup of blech coffee...|
He laughed at me, "Answer the question."
I bowed to the inevitable and answered, "I mess with it a lot. Cream, sugar. The works, Father."
He nodded and bowed his head. "For two days, drink it black."
"Can I do without?"
"You know, I can do without it. I thought you were going to tell me to do without."
"You are to drink it and you are to drink it black."
"I can do that," thinking I'd drink one cup and call it penance.
"I want you to drink it and I want you to be sure that you are not drinking any less."
I wondered if he could read minds.
He had that twinkle in his eye again, "Think about the bitterness of sin with each sip."
I laughed, "That won't be hard."
"It could be," he said.
He knows me well enough to know me. I'd rather do without than put up with.
Lord, have mercy.
As I was reviewing the above, I realized something about myself--I am constantly bargaining. It's not just me in the Confessional, it's me everywhere (just ask my mom sometime). I don't think I accept authority very well. I also think I need to quit blaming my husband for our son who does the exact same thing to my authority.
Today I had the pleasure of going to Mass. It's First Friday. We Martins haven't managed to ever complete the First Friday Devotion, but we do go frequently. Any day with Mass in it is a good day.
I am also fasting today. The first coffee penance was served today, too, and yet today wasn't as bad as I imagined it would be. It did take me until 3:00 p.m. to choke down my usual dose of morning coffee. I thought of the bitterness of sin with every sip, too. I can not believe that this is all it takes to tame me. I am an incredible wimp.
The weather has been so cooperative that I decided to work outside. We are renovating an old farmhouse that we moved onto an acre of land we purchased a few years ago. Last year's massive drought took us down to bare dirt, though I had managed to section off and compost a large garden bed out front. This week I began transplanting bulbs and perennials. Today, my neighbor and I hit the town's free mulch yard. We loaded up a trailer full of mulch and dumped it on the new plantings. I'm watering it all in even as I type.
I'm also hoping for snow on Sunday. It's been the only promise of moisture for months. C'mon snow! Ice? Anything!!
My neighbor and I are going to share our resources for gardening in other ways, too. Next year I will be in charge of all the gourds here at my house. She will grow everything else. We began pooling our resources because I wanted to garden but didn't have the soil ready. Instead of struggling to produce a measly crop in poorly prepared soil, all last year I churned the dirt and added manure to my future garden and earned my summer produce by working in her garden and helping with the harvests and canning. Gardens around here take tremendous effort and much preparation. I'm only just to the point where enough compost has been added to enrich the soil in my main garden bed to consider being in charge of the gourds. We'll still pool our resources, we've just increased the pool for next year. I'm excited.
We're moving all the gourds to my new bed because the ongoing drought has created a surplus of squash bugs. We're hoping to get a better harvest than this year if we move next year's crop of pumpkins, butternuts, and squashes to my plot. You think maybe the bugs will simply get lost between here and there? I am happily working on the project now at any rate. Next year I will have some flowers and some greenery about the place.
So help me!
Well, I promised a special Advent Post and then I went and took all my notes and made a Podcast out of them. I was able to go so far afield and so much more in depth talking about Advent that I now have enough material to write a small book on the subject. Gracious sakes, I'm not up for that at the moment (though I will take this opportunity to announce that I have two children's books being penned as well as a sci-fi story bubbling around in my cauldron of Too Much To Do Stew), so I've decided to leave it as a Podcast for the moment and let you listen to the post I had fully intended to write for you.
Here it is...